Get more out of z/OS Connect with HostBridge CICS API Orchestration
Business Case | Hybrid IT | Z/OS Connect| by Jerry Rackley

IBM z/OS Connect creates an API front door to a broad spectrum of IBM Z applications (CICS, IMS, DB2, MQ). Making mainframe applications available via a RESTful API allows non-mainframe applications to easily gain access to the data and logic these applications represent. The simpler the APIs, the easier and faster integration with any downstream application becomes, regardless of the skillset or technology choice. The answer to simplifying APIs for the broadest possible use is the ability to do CICS API orchestration.

As enterprises embark upon modernization projects, it’s important to effectively integrate with core CICS applications that are often the focus for modernization initiatives. For most organizations, CICS applications are the single-largest class of service and generally fall into two categories:

  • Business-logic apps: Applications that exchange a data structure as input/output that is usually defined by a COBOL copy book. Often referred to as “COMMAREA programs”, these CICS applications are relatively easy to integrate.
  • Screen-based apps: Applications originally designed for users with 3270 terminals. The de facto integration method utilizes 3270 terminal emulation software to scrape data from screens using row/column coordinates. Screen scraping integration is notoriously unreliable and inefficient, which impacts application stability and overall performance.

IBM z/OS Connect does a fine job enabling integration for CICS business-logic applications when the requirement is to invoke a single program via a single API call. When the need is to invoke multiple business-logic programs to fulfill the requirements of a single API call, z/OS Connect does not support this requirement. Furthermore, when the integration requires invoking one or more screen-based CICS transactions, z/OS Connect does not support this either. Fortunately, the HostBridge JavaScript Engine (HB.js) serves as a perfect complement to Z/OS Connect. HB.js extends the value of a z/OS Connect investment with the ability to reach all types of CICS applications through their integration efforts, via a streamlined, high-performance API. HB.js delivers this through the power of orchestration: the capability to have an integration API perform a complete CICS transaction navigation sequence from a single API call. The more complex navigation sequences are, and the more screens they involve, the more powerful and beneficial CICS API orchestration is.

The power of CICS API Orchestration: 1-to-Many.

Keeping the integration and orchestration layer very close to the target CICS applications reduces the transaction chatter, latency, and ultimately lowers costs. Does it, however, consume more mainframe CPU cycles? Not when HostBridge is the enabling technology. Using HB.js creates efficiencies that may save general processor CPU cycles while using less network bandwidth. Even better, HB.js orchestration scripts are zIIP-eligible, driving down costs even further!

CICS API Orchestration Use Case

One customer is using HB.js-created CICS APIs to replace server-based, screen scraping integration, achieving impressive results. A 41 transactions/interaction sequence with the host was displaced by a single API. When invoked via using CICS API orchestration, the transaction sequence runs at least 30 times faster than the service it replaced. These results are impressive but typical for the API approach.

In business terms, reducing traffic and lowering CPU resources even as little as 3-5%, clients could save millions of dollars in hardware and software while delivering a better customer experience. Further, leveraging the zIIP offload could reduce processing costs by as much as 90%. On the deployment end, business level APIs that exploit HB.js CICS orchestration allow faster development of new applications and APIs, while eliminating need for an in-depth mainframe program knowledge. This hastens modernization and allows a wider community of developers, with a mix of end-point technologies, to integrate proven core business systems running on CICS. Overall, development and maintenance for integrations can be lowered by at least 30%.

The integration and modernization experience the HostBridge team has taught us that most enterprises have a blend of business-logic and screen-based apps. Both types need to fully participate in hybrid IT strategies via integration and modernization efforts. Having z/OS Connect and HB.js in the integration toolkit ensures that no CICS app is left behind in drive toward digital transformation.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of CICS API orchestration or how HB.js complements IBM z/OS Connect, reach out to us using the contact information found at the bottom of this page.