Sunday, 15 June 2008

Gloomy news for IMS?

The Virtual IMS Connection ( user group recently surveyed IMS users about IMS and their plans for the future. The results were published last week during at their user group meeting. And the results make interesting reading for anyone involved with IMS either as a systems programmer, software vendor, or user.

The survey was carried out from the middle of April to the middle of May this year and included results from 45 different sites representing 38 different organizations in 10 different countries. Most sites were still using V9, but a third of respondents had at least one machine running the new V10. Over two thirds of the sites were fairly big, running over 100 databases.

The survey asked whether new IMS applications were being developed at respondents’ sites. The good news was that just over half said "yes", the bad news is that it was only just over half the sites that said "yes". Just under half said "no".

The survey also asked whether respondents had plans to retire IMS applications. Out of 44 replies, 25 said "no", but a disappointingly high number (19) said "yes". It then asked whether respondents planned to migrate data from IMS to another database. Again, out of 44 respondents 25 said "no", and 19 said "yes", with 13 respondents (29.5%) answering "yes" to both question. This must be a worry for IBM and software vendors producing IMS-related software because it looks like nearly half the current IMS user base could disappear. In addition, there is little evidence from elsewhere suggesting that any sites are migrating to IMS.

How quickly are these sites planning to retire applications or migrate data? Looking at the 19 sites planning to migrate data, five (26.3%) planned to migrate data to other databases in less than a year, nine (47.4%) planned the migration in 1-5 years, and five sites (26.3%) weren’t expecting to migrate for at least five years.

With Web services and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) being important in the development of modern applications, the survey asked how far respondents had gone in the development of SOA at their sites. 17 sites (38.6%) said that System z participates partly in Web services with 10 sites (22.7%) saying that System z participates fully in Web services. Two sites (4.5%) said that their mainframe will be Web-enabled in the future. But seven sites (15.9%) that said their mainframe applications did not participate in Web services and they didn’t intend to implement mainframe Web services. Eight respondents weren’t sure what was happening at their site.

The survey results are not all gloom. On the one hand it is encouraging to see that at over half the sites surveyed new IMS applications are being developed, but it is worrying to see that at over 40% of sites IMS applications are being retired and data from IMS is being migrated to other databases.

Is management sometimes unaware of the value of IMS to the organization? Is there a problem of finding young, but experienced IMS staff? Is it just management is being lured away from the mainframe to distributed computing? The good news from this survey is that there are still plenty of IMS sites that are embracing SOA and moving forward using the product. The bad news, of course, is that these sites seem to be getting fewer and fewer.

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