Mainframes: the ultimate commerce server

IBM continues its push to make OS/390 more robust for e-business
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor on

Six months ago, IBM officially announced what customers had known for a while: Mainframes make darned good commerce servers.

On Thursday, IBM furthered that message by announcing commerce and customer relationship management (CRM) enhancements it is making to the next-generation of its OS/390 mainframe operating system. OS/390 version 2, release 9, will begin shipping on 31 March. The new release will support larger volumes of transactions, as well as easier cross-platform portability, said IBM. "We're making it so bringing applications over to the 390 is not even a port. It'll be just a move across platforms thanks to the mainframe Java support IBM is including as part of the updated OS," said Rich Fuqua, IBM enterprise servers e-business marketing executive. Fuqua adds that IBM has been unable to keep up with demand for workshops it is offering for Java-enabled customers' existing S/390 applications.

With release 9, IBM is adding support for Java Server Pages and Servlets, as well as VisualAge for Java Tooling. It also is adding the ability to access DB2 data via the Java DataBase Connection protocol.

Simultaneously, IBM is working to ease the task of porting Unix-based third-party and custom applications to the mainframe. It is adding new Unix System Services facilities that support 64-bit integers, making it easier to port C- and C++-based Unix applications to OS/390.

To further OS/390's appeal to commerce customers, IBM also is adding new security and networking enhancements, such as support for PCI Cryptographic Coprocessors and improved I/O support via IBM's Capacity Upgrade on Demand feature. Customers can bring online additional capacity support in minutes or hours, instead of days, IBM officials said.

IBM touted the appeal of release 9 to CRM vendors, such as PeopleSoft/Vantive, Sideware and Siebel Systems. Last autumn it announced that Siebel was moving its CRM offerings to IBM mainframes; the actual mainframe-based deliverables should be available commercially before the end of 2000, according to company officials.

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