If you need further evidence the mainframe is as strong a business IT player as ever—the fact IBM continues to tailor and fine tune its software offerings for mainframe workloads should provide all the proof you need.
Case in point, earlier this month IBM released a z/OS-specific variant of its popular Business Process Manager Advanced business process management (BPM) platform. The general release was announced in April and featured, among other things, a new set of business process visualization and analytic tools, improved methods for managing work for users, and new design tools based on business process modeling notation (BPMN). Business Process Manager Advanced for z/OS V7.5 brings new functionality to the mainframe and optimizes it for z/OS workloads.
“IBM is and always has been dedicated to the mainframe, and that’s clear in spaces such as BPM and SOA (service oriented architecture), where special attention is focused on mainframe optimization,” says Damion Heredia, IBM head of BPM product management. “With BPM Advanced for z/OS V7.5, whether you’re executing human-based or the straight-through processes and workloads of the enterprise, you’re now able to manage and optimize those workloads directly on the mainframe system.”
What is BPM Advanced?
IBM Business Process Manager Advanced is designed to be a comprehensive BPM platform offering enhanced visibility, analytics and management. Process design, execution, monitoring and optimization can be conducted via tooling and run-time operations. Ideally, it can enable organizations to actively improve business processes.
The offering’s ease-of-use and task-management capabilities, combined with enterprise integration support and transaction process management requirements, deliver an extensive BPM environment. Customers can increase efficiency via a real time, overall view for performing tasks, managing work items, tracking performance and responding to events.
To further deliver on the promise of SOA, BPM Advanced combines the task- management capabilities of WebSphere Lombardi Edition with key components of WebSphere Process Server to support enterprise human processes, integration and transaction process management requirements.
IBM BPM Advanced for z/OS V7.5 provides the benefits and functionality of the overall Advanced offering, optimized for the mainframe. For example, it runs considerably faster on the System z platform than with previous releases. Leveraging BPM Advanced for the mainframe, organizations can extend their business-critical z/OS applications, update processes to accommodate new opportunities, and consolidate process solutions without disruption across distributed and zEnterprise environments.
“One of the key value propositions our customers realize when running BPM Advanced on the mainframe is direct access to the mainframe itself,” says Heredia. “That can include data within copybooks, information in DB2, COBOL services they may directly integrate into the workflows and processes, IMS or CICS transactions. Because it’s running on the mainframe, we have direct access to all of those with the ability to incorporate it all into the process simply by dragging and dropping those assets into the BPM system—this is the value of co-location of shared process models on Linux for System z.”
BPM Advanced for z/OS also provides high availability and quality-of-service (QoS) for transactional and batch execution, as well as extended support for high-volume process automation. Built-in SOA components complement enterprise-wide service integration and orchestration.
“IBM Business Process Manager for z/OS V7.5 and the mainframe really represent a different market for us, but it’s an exciting proposition,” says Heredia. “Obviously, to run on this level of sophisticated hardware and machinery is very advantageous because of the performance capabilities and transactional integrity the mainframe can deliver, so we really optimized the software for those value propositions.”
Addressing Key Trends
BPM Advanced for z/OS is particularly well positioned to address several trends, according to Heredia. For example, larger businesses often have enterprise processes that span many platforms, so they need to run a portion of the processes on distributed systems, another on the mainframe and maybe a third portion in a high-performance execution environment such as z/OS.
“This is one of the real advantages we bring to the table, in that a customer can have a very enterprise-wide application process being managed by IBM BPM, and now you can choose from one central IBM BPM Process Center—which is the central repository for process applications—and deploy the process on various run-times,” Heredia says. “So we do support the heterogeneous environments, from distributed systems, to System z—including z/OS, z/VM and zLinux—to the UNIX variants of the world, allowing us to bring that enterprise-class BPM across all of the different platforms.”
A second trend is customers looking to move more process workloads to the System z platform. This makes sense when you consider the mainframe has most of the mission-critical infrastructures built around it, including operations and security. Therefore, organizations often look at their critical processes and decide they would be best served running on the System z platform along with these other processes. In such instances, processes would benefit from an IBM BPM Advanced offering optimized for z/OS.
“A third trend we’re seeing is a need for process configurability and the necessary agility of being able to change these processes very quickly,” says Heredia. “That’s what the IBM BPM for z/OS V7.5 product delivers across all platforms—the ability to update, change and improve these processes very quickly, without dropping into code or bringing IT development resources into play to make changes. There’s also the value proposition of simplicity: We bring the process control to the business users—even for transaction-intensive CICS, IMS and batch processes—while co-locating the process server in the z/OS partition. This offering really delivers on all these trends, and it does so very well.”