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Intro: Addressing Your CIOs Concerns

The IMS Modernization Challenge 5

Step 1: Understand Business Objectives

Step 2: Gradually Migrate Data 10

Step 3: Retire IMS/DB 12
Conclusion 14

CIOs are increasingly under pressure to support business transformation initiatives

driven by the boardroom. New business models to spur growth require a level of agility
and connectivity that puts technology at the forefront. Gartners 2013 CEO survey
confirms that IT is no longer just about the IT function. Instead, IT has become the
catalyst for the next phase of innovation in competitive business ecosystems. To remain
relevant CIOs must align IT goals with those of the business.
As CIOs assess their current IT infrastructure to try to determine how to address new
business demands as quickly as possible while minimizing costs and risks, many are
concerned with how to approach their mainframe and legacy environments. Many of
these systems continue to play a key role in supporting critical processes. For example,
IBMs Information Management Systems (IMS) offers unequalled performance,
transaction volumes and high availability, making it the workhorse that many financial
services firms, retailers, distributors, manufacturers and government agencies trust to
keep core components of their operations running. Organizations cant afford to risk
downtime or degradation in service. At the same time these legacy systems often stand
in the way of supporting new business initiatives both for technical and cost reasons.
Decades of investment in IBM mainframe environments have created islands of data
and processing logic, often implemented in different generations of technology.
Most mainframe data centers have multiple database management systems, multiple
development languages, a combination of home-grown and packaged applications,
and several architectural styles, including host-based, client/server and Internet-based
computing models. At the same time, numerous studies have shown that as much as

80 percent of a typical IT budget is spent on supporting the current software portfolio,

leaving little for supporting new strategic business initiatives. Straddling both the
technical and cost challenges is a shortage of skills. Looming retirement for those who
developed these systems, and a dearth of available IMS and COBOL talent present a
significant roadblock when relying on legacy systems to support new business initiatives.
Given this landscape, many CIOs are asking themselves:

As knowledgeable staff begins to retire, how can I continue to hire and retain the
talent I need to support IMS?

How can I unlock the value of IMS data to help power new business applications
that drive growth, like web-based services?

How can I free up necessary resources, both talent and budget, to deliver the
infrastructure to support new initiatives the business is demanding?

CIOs are struggling to find solid answers to their questions in order to support business
transformation. Many look to the traditional range of available approaches to modernize
IMS legacy systems, but most are prohibitive due to the risk, time and costs involved.
However there is a way to modernize IMS that addresses these challenges and
alleviates your CIOs concerns.

Typical approaches to modernization in the past included four alternatives, each with
its own limitations.

NUMBER ONE: Propagate or Replicate IMS Data to DB2

In data replication, data is periodically copied from IMS production databases to a
DB2 environment. Providing the rich functionality required by todays e-business and
business intelligence applications, DB2 has become the database of choice for z/OS.
The copy process often involves complex data aggregation and transformation logic to
map transactional records into data schemas designed to support SQL-based reporting
tools and web services. This process in and of itself is time consuming and requires a
team of highly skilled migration experts.
The batch nature of any extract, transform, load (ETL) process means that reporting
data is always out of date when compared with operational data stores, which can
lead to multiple versions of the truth. Some of this can be mitigated by performing
ongoing data propagation. Updates to your IMS databases can be synchronously or
asynchronously propagated to the equivalent data in DB2. The main disadvantages
are the overhead of maintaining two copies of the data, and the additional layer of
complexity introduced into your environment.

NUMBER TWO: Rewrite IMS-based Applications

IMS applications typically have become entrenched in the organization over decades
and include extensive, custom functionality built over time often by different people,
some of whom may no longer be with the organization. Rewriting these applications
is no small task. In fact, a major retailer looked at manually converting their 3,500+
IMS programs to DB2 and determined it would take 3,536 man-weeks and just over $25
million dollars to complete. Estimates such as these are not unusual given organizations
widespread and historical reliance on IMS. Rewriting can also impose significant risk.
Understanding code written by someone else can be daunting, even minor changes
could break the application a risk organizations cant afford to take.

NUMBER THREE: Purchase Packaged Applications

Replacing legacy applications with modern integrated packages is another alternative
and in some instances may be the most appropriate approach. Discarding this
investment in favor of new technologies may resonate well with our consumer-oriented
thinking, but it fails to take into account the complexity and risk involved in large-scale
IT migration projects and the fact that those mainframe applications contain the logic
that defines how organizations work, something that wont come out of the box with
new applications.

NUMBER FOUR: Hire More Staff Skilled in IMS

This alternative is not a sustainable approach addressing only the immediate skills
drain problem, not the greater modernization challenge. Valuable data is still locked
within IMS and inaccessible to the organization. Hiring and retaining staff will be an
ongoing costly issue as these skilled programmers become more difficult to find and
expensive to attract and retain.
In many cases, given the risk, time and costs involved, many organizations decide to
delay a decision and do nothing. The CIOs concerns remain unaddressed and so do the
needs of the business.

Organizations need a better way to modernize their IMS legacy systems.

DB2 remains the preferred choice for IMS data migration. Yet traditional methods to
extend the benefits of DB2 to legacy IMS involve complex data re-engineering and
migration and extensive modification to application programs often resulting in an
unacceptable level of effort, cost and risk. However there is a different approach to
legacy modernization Transparent Data Migration that overcomes these challenges.
Transparent Data Migration is defined as:

Requiring no change to existing IMS-based applications

Enabling different DB2 design models to be deployed for different IMS databases
Enabling change to DB2 design models at any time to help meet new business

Offering the ability to migrate IMS databases over time to DB2

Eliminating IMS and IMS database tools should the business decide to migrate
all IMS databases

This guide will provide a three-step approach to Transparent Data Migration that
will help you to address your CIOs concerns and unleash the power of IMS data to
catalyze the business.

The process of Transparent Data Migration begins by understanding your ultimate

business objectives.
Is the goal to make IMS data available to support new applications and enable
evolving business models? Transparency of corporate data is becoming increasingly
important. Competing effectively requires better customer understanding, more
integrated internal and supplier processes and the support for a range of channels that
are available 24 hours a day. That means data availability and accessibility across the
enterprise and beyond. If this is your primary objective, then identifying and migrating
only the databases that contain relevant data for these new applications is the next step.
Is the goal to save costs? If so, you might want to consider a phased approach although
this depends on the number of IMS databases to be migrated and the availability of
migration windows. You could initially identify and migrate the databases that deliver
the optimum balance between cost savings and the least amount of application testing
effort, and then progress through the remaining IMS databases. Ultimately youll reach
your target of eliminating IMS/DB costs and licenses by migrating everything.
Is risk mitigation the primary business objective? If youre trying to mitigate risk
from retiring staff then the ultimate goal is to retire IMS/DB. In this case, a phased
approach that begins with the IMS databases that require more domain knowledge from
those planning to leave the organization and then moving on to less complex databases
is the path to take.

With your business objectives clearly defined, youre now ready to take the next
step and realize the benefits of Transparent Data Migration, including:

No application program changes required

Lowest-risk migration strategy migrate databases individually, in a group or all
at the same time

Reduced costs eliminate IMS database and IMS/DB tools licenses

Simplification of DBA support through DBMS convergence
Choice of migration methods to meet different migration requirements:
Simple, rapid method to reduce costs very quickly
More measured method to meet DB2 design

A combination of both
A phased approach that begins with the
simple method first, measured method


With Transparent Data Migration, organizations can map and measure their migration
strategy to their business objectives. For example, a large retailer had one key application
comprised of four core IMS/DB databases with data that could unlock tremendous value
and insights for the business. They had an additional 82 databases that they also wanted
to convert to achieve cost savings.

SOLUTION: The company deployed a two-tier Transparent Data Migration strategy. For the
four core databases they used a more sophisticated DB2 design model to support more
detailed mapping of IMS database fields and enable sophisticated reuse and analysis
by DB2 applications. To accelerate cost savings associated with the 82 databases they
decided to use a simple DB2 design model with columns that correspond just to fields
defined in the IMS DBDs.

Transparent Data Migration isnt an all or nothing approach. Depending on their

business objectives CIOs may decide to migrate only a select number of databases, or
they may choose to migrate all of their IMS databases but in discrete phases to minimize
risk, reduce disruption to the business and get the biggest bang for the buck.
Whatever the plan, throughout the migration IMS applications remain unchanged.
They continue to issue IMS calls, process resulting IMS data, and execute conditional
logic based on IMS return codes. The transparency
layer becomes responsible for providing a bridge

between the IMS programs and the combination of

DB2 and IMS databases that hold the production


data. To do this, it must be able to intercept the

IMS calls at run-time and determine whether that

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target data is still in IMS database or has been migrated

to DB2.


The transparency solution keeps track of databases

migrated to DB2 and databases still in IMS and, at call time,



either allows IMS to process the call or initiates

a DB2 call process. In this process, the IMS
call is replaced by highly optimized static
SQL call sequences. The retrieved data
is then transformed and parsed to re-create the



original IMS record and is passed back to the application with the appropriate IMS
return code. For IMS calls that update data, the reverse transformation is performed.
There are several advantages to this approach. Because applications remain unchanged
(just relinked to point to a new IMS stub program), application conversion work and
its associated risk are eliminated and application testing is greatly reduced. If the longterm objective is to modify the applications, this can be undertaken on a gradual basis
after the data is migrated. Organizations have the ability to divide both data migration
and application modification activities into smaller, more manageable pieces. And if, for
whatever reason, problems occur during cutover, fallback using a transparency solution
is simply a matter of setting a switch to point to the original databases.


A large state government department of corrections wanted to improve data management
and data sharing across multiple state agencies. They analyzed their applications and
categorized their databases into three discrete groups. They decided to begin with the
finance application that was fairly self-contained and would deliver significant value or
cross-agency collaboration and planning.

SOLUTION: They migrated the finance application databases first and conducted application
testing to ensure all application functions performed as required with the data now
transferred to DB2. Achieving successful test results, they migrated their production
finance databases to DB2 and deleted the equivalent IMS databases.
The second database group was by far the most complex and significant. The IMS
application had 19 different formats of date and time fields and extensive reengineering
was performed to enable these to be stored in standard DB2 DATE and TIME formats.
The reverse transformation assured that the existing IMS programs continued to process
these fields in their original format. In all, over 1000 numeric fields were transformed.
The final step migrated the third and final group of ancillary databases. A simplified
DB2 design model was deployed for the final database group.

In situations where IMS/DC is the transaction manager, retiring IMS in total isnt an
appropriate end goal. IMS/DC continues to play a key role in supporting critical online
processing and the performance, transaction volumes and high availability, make it the
best choice to continue to run core components of their operations.
However, if you have converted all of your IMS databases, why would you want to
continue to pay for an IMS/DB and associated IMS/DB tools licenses? Yes, the prospect
of retiring IMS/DB can seem overwhelming and even impossible to many CIOs and IT
staff. Careers have been forged by creating, maintaining and extending these systems.
But today the cost of IMS can be seen as a drain on the business and can hold the answer
for how the CIO can help fund IT initiatives needed to propel the business forward.
IMS/DB license costs are expensive and while they can be justified across a large
number of databases, they become difficult to defend as more data is placed under the
control of DB2. In addition, many IMS shops run third-party IMS management tools
that represent a recurring expense above and beyond the IMS licenses themselves. Add
to this the fact that IMS DBA skills are expensive and in short supply. Permanent IMSto-DB2 migration is the only way to eliminate these costs.


By progressing through the process of Transparent

Data Migration, CIOs soon realize that retiring
IMS/DB is an achievable goal. Not only does it


open up IMS data to next-generation applications,

it is the only approach to eliminate the high costs
associated with running IMS, short of retiring legacy
applications entirely.


A large, global financial institution was spending a significant portion of its IT budget
every year on IMS/DB related costs to support their trading platform. They believed the
only viable approach to long-term cost reduction was to rewrite their IMS applications
but the investment of time and resources, not to mention the risk, was significant.

SOLUTION: The complex set of nearly 40 databases and an extremely complex operational
environment required extensive rationalization, mapping and testing. The migration
occurred in two phases to minimize risk with a smaller, yet identical, production
environment in one region used as the test bed for the larger global deployment. The
complete cutover to DB2 eliminated IMS and saved the bank millions of dollars.


For some organizations IMS will continue to play an important role in the IT

Extremely high performance and high availability make it ideally

suited to handle transaction-intensive applications where runtime costs and efficiency

are more important than ad-hoc usage. But increasing demands from the business
to support transformation initiatives are forcing many CIOs to reevaluate the role of
legacy systems and seek out a viable approach to legacy modernization.
Traditional methods include propagating IMS data to DB2, rewriting IMS-based
applications, purchasing packaged applications or delaying the inevitable by hiring
more IMS-skilled staff. However, each method presents its own unique set of challenges.
Transparent Data Migration overcomes these challenges and helps organizations
unleash the power of IMS data to catalyze the business with this three-step approach.

STEP ONE: Understand Business Objectives.

Identifying up front whether the main

objective is to make IMS data available to support new applications and enable evolving
business models, save costs or mitigate risk, will help you identify the best way to move
forward with a transparent data migration approach that will meet your goals.

STEP TWO: Gradually Migrate Data. With your business objectives in mind, the next step
is to put a formal plan in place to gradually migrate your data. This isnt an all or nothing
proposition. Some organizations need only migrate select databases to satisfy business
needs while others will eventually migrate all. Whatever the finish line may be, a gradual
approach minimizes risks and costs.

STEP THREE: Retire IMS/DB. Not all organizations will move to this step but for those
charged with cost reduction or risk mitigation due to retiring IMS talent this is the final
step. By progressing through the process of Transparent Data Migration, CIOs soon
realize that retiring IMS is a realistic goal.

Syncsort is helping organizations around the world unlock the value of IMS data
by migrating to DB2 through Transparent Data Migration. Syncsort DL/2 is a data
migration and application transparency solution specifically designed to address the
challenges of IMS data migration to DB2. With DL/2, application programs remain
unchanged, and that means full protection of your application investments. Powerful
mapping and migration tools get you to DB2 quickly, one or more IMS databases at a
time. Applications continue to issue IMS/DB requests, but where requested data has
been migrated to DB2, DL/2 retrieves it and delivers it back to the application as if it
came from IMS/DB.
Whatever your objective may be to leverage IMS data for new and often web-based
applications, reduce costs or minimize risk DL/2 meets them equally.
Syncsort DL/2 has been proving itself around the world in a wide variety of vertical
industries since the early 1990s. Every day, hundreds of applications accessing thousands
of DL/2-migrated IMS databases issue billions of IMS calls in DB2. And every day, CIOs
are turning to DL/2 to alleviate their concerns with a risk-free approach to achieve their


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