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Standing the Test of Time

The secure and reliable IMS shows no signs of aging

The secure and reliable IMS shows no signs of aging
Illustration by Jud Guitteau

Since the inception of IMS* 39 years ago, IT has changed significantly. The complexity of IT has exponentially increased as the ever-changing market forces that mandate the need for flexible, open systems. With the growth of the Internet, e-business and global reach, new commerce channels are changing the way business is conducted to the point where the capability to access information is quickly becoming as important as the information itself.

With so much information changing hands, reliability and security are vital components in a company’s data-management solution. While the emerging market continues to change and become more complex, one thing has remained undeniably stable: IMS customers are still on the cutting edge of technology, operating their businesses in a secure, recoverable manner.

Reliability and Integrity Through IMS

IMS continues to function as a premier high-performance database and transaction manager to manage and protect data. Although the majority of security options are utilized through the Security Authorization Facility (SAF) interface, you can add Resource Access Control Facility (RACF*) or equivalent SAF provider profiles to further enhance your security.

After years of being marginalized, and even considered extinct by some, IMS is more alive than ever and has emerged as a complete, open system that’s the cornerstone of any IT infrastructure where large amounts of data, flexibility, performance and reliability are fundamental business requirements. In order to understand how critical IMS is to big business, consider the following facts:

  • More then 90 percent of Fortune 1000 companies use IMS.
  • More than $3 trillion worth of transactions for a single IMS customer are processed per day.
  • Clients that run IMS have exceeded a workload of 100 million transactions per day.

With such a large quantity of data, transaction activity can’t be easily or accurately predicted. You need a reliable system that can respond to workload variation seamlessly with minimal operational intervention while maintaining the same level of performance. In addition, your system security must have the adaptability to regulate the amount of data needed for each program to provide its service. Utilizing the Program Specification Block and Program Control Block, your system security can regulate the amount of data that’s required for each service. The capability of IMS to tolerate change in real time is a testament to its resiliency.

Reliability and resiliency play a crucial role when your environment deals with incredible amounts of data. For example, an IMS banking customer deals with 375 million different savings accounts that must be accessible at any given time. If IMS fails, the bank’s integrity and success is compromised. When your business involves providing access to someone else’s money, data integrity and reliability are paramount to success. The reliability of IMS speaks volumes.

In relation to engineering, reliability is defined as the capability of a system or component to perform its required functions under the stated conditions for a specified period of time. Reliability can have three different specifications:

  • Mean time between failures (MTBF)
  • Mean time to loss of data availability (MTDA)
  • Mean time to data loss (MTDL)

While these concepts have a wider application to hardware devices, they remain valid for a software product like IMS, which deals in terms of data integrity. In this specific context, MTDL and MTDA coincide and are treated as a single concept.

IMS continues to function as a premier high-performance database and transaction manager to manage and protect data.

Adam Locke is the primary information developer for IMS System Programming and Automation at IBM’s Silicon Valley labs.

Robert Hain is an IBM certified IT specialist and a member of IMS worldwide advocate team.


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