HostBridge announces Analytics Connector that enables SIEM visibility into CICS Applications
Products| by Jerry Rackley

HostBridge Technology, a provider of mainframe integration solutions for the enterprise, announces the availability of the HostBridge Transaction Analytics Connector (HTAC), software for enterprises whose mobile, web or cloud applications are supported by CICS transactions on the back end. HTAC allows analytics platforms or SIEM solutions to capture end-to-end analytic data for transactions from their point of origin up to and including the CICS transactions that participate in fulfilling requests.

HTAC addresses a SIEM visibility gap that has long existed when end user activity involves CICS transactions on the back end.  “Once these end-user requests get to a CICS application on the mainframe, they go off the radar screen,” states Russ Teubner, CEO and co-founder of HostBridge Technology.  “The enterprise architects who helped create these applications hope that a response comes out of the mainframe in a very timely manner. But the fact is that these requests go off the SIEM radar when they enter CICS, and then come back on when the response exits CICS.  This means that if you’re trying to diagnose a problem or do a true assessment of customer service levels, there’s a significant visibility gap when CICS applications are involved.

HTAC was developed specifically for organizations that use CICS transactions to deliver functionality to end users through mobile, cloud or web applications.  Because it runs on the mainframe and under CICS, HTAC exploits CICS Transaction Tracking functionality.  This CICS functionality provides a foundation for tracking related transactions across CICS regions. However, CICS Transaction Tracking has few capabilities for actually identifying the origin of the request.  Through its Patent Pending approach, HTAC extracts origin data received with requests coming to CICS via HTTP or CICS Transaction Gateway, and adds this information to the data managed by CICS Transaction Tracking.  By working hand-in-hand with CICS, HTAC preserves and propagates this externally specified origin data and ensures that it is ultimately included in the SMF records created by CICS for the transactions. This entire set of correlated data then becomes available to SIEM platforms and monitors, creating a complete, end-to-end view of the transaction.

The analytics data void that exists between distributed and mainframe applications is one that enterprises have either chosen to live with or they’ve tried to cobble together a solution of their own,” Teubner adds.  “The problem with the latter approach is that in order to really account for all the things that can happen on the mainframe from a simple request, enterprises often had to develop programmatic ‘hooks’ under the covers of CICS. But putting all these hooks into their applications increases overhead, and creates maintenance or even stability problems. Even then, customers were rarely able to truly correlate the originating request and the CICS transactions required to fulfill it.  The combination of HTAC and CICS Transaction Tracking completely and efficiently solve this problem.

IBM provided a solid foundation for tracking activities within the CICS environment with the Transaction Tracking functionality. “This functionality provides all the necessary infrastructure within CICS to track everything that’s going on inside of CICS, making it a common, supported part of CICS,” Teubner continues. “However, it’s a partial solution because it only focuses on what is going on in CICS. It’s disconnected from the non-mainframe activity that caused the work to occur. The only way to fill the analytics data void is by achieving correlation between the mainframe and non-mainframe environments. For enterprises to take full advantage of this infrastructure, a solution like HTAC is required.  It serves as a ‘last mile’ connector between CICS and SIEM platforms. As a result, HTAC allows enterprises with analytics platforms to easily collect and exploit operational data from CICS.

HTAC works as a standalone solution for enterprises that need to include transaction data from CICS applications with their analytics platforms.  It also complements solutions like Syncsort Ironstream® that make data from other z/OS sources visible to analytics platforms like Splunk. HostBridge is an authorized reseller of Syncsort Ironstream®.

Pricing and Availability

The HostBridge Transaction Analytics Connector becomes is now available for download from the HostBridge website.

HTAC follows a value-based pricing model that determines licensing cost based on the daily number of correlations it performs.  Prospective customers can use a free, 45-day test license to determine how many correlations HTAC performs as an aid to purchasing the right license. Contact HostBridge to get a HTAC license quote.

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