Neon Upgrades, Extends IMS Toolset

Customers are still betting their businesses on IMS and other “legacy” datastores—and mainframe ISVs are more than happy to oblige.

NEON Enterprise Software Inc. (NESI) announced new IMS products along with enhanced versions of existing IMS products. Officials say the revamped IMS tools—NESI’s Eclipse Reorganization Utilities, along with two new products, Eclipse iRepair and Eclipse iLM—are designed to help improve IMS availability by reducing CPU usage and enhancing performance (by up to 50 percent) during database reorgs.

NESI’s IMS refresh comes about a month after CA announced similar deliverables for its IDMS and Datacom databases—both of which had a similar focus. Why this flurry of recent activity in the otherwise somnolent pre-relational database market? One reason is that a lot of customers are still betting their businesses on IMS and other pre-relational—or “legacy,” in industry analyst-speak—databases. CA, for example, claims that more than 1,000 customers still run either its IDMS or Datacom databases, and many times that number are holding firm on IMS, according to a Gartner report issued last year.

That’s a ball NESI officials are more than happy to pick up and run with. NESI’s new and improved IMS offerings are designed to maximize availability for those users that continue to bet their businesses on IMS. “Most businesses today require access to information around the clock,” said NESI CEO Don Pate, in a statement. “Unlike other online reorganization products that require brief outages for maintenance and updates, these enhanced products keep IMS applications available when they are needed and reduce CPU, which significantly reduces costs. We are continuing our commitment to IMS and the mainframe by delivering products that meet the demands of today's business environment.”

To that end, NESI’s new Eclipse iRepair is a one-tool solution lets users view, analyze, and repair IMS database data sets (along with other z/OS data sets). Eclipse iLM, on the other hand, provides a comprehensive set of tools for cleaning and maintaining IMS and CICS libraries, assuring database integrity and increasing database availability.

NESI’s Eclipse Reorganization Utilities are by no means new, but they’ve nevertheless been revamped, according to officials. The enhanced utilities reduce CPU usage and elapsed time for database reorgs by up to 50 percent, while NESI Database Director boasts improved Fast Path database processing. Database Director also provides continuous application availability during online reorgs, officials say. Finally, NESI’s revamped Mission Control ships with new trend and database analysis features that support time-based database management. One upshot of this, officials say, is that DBAs can track the state and status of a database over a specified period.

IMS is still used by thousands of mainframe shops—and enjoys the support of countless mainframe ISVs – but market watchers aren’t all that sanguine about its future, not to mention those of other pre-relational datastores, such as IDMS, Datacom, or Software AG’s Adabase.

According to a report published last year by Gartner, for example, pre-relational database market share—measured by revenue—has mostly remained flat, even as market share, measured in terms of customer sites, has declined.

The long-term prognosis, claimed Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg, is bleak: customers should think about migrating off of IMS (or other pre-relational platforms) over the next five to ten years. “[E]ntrants to the job market are interested only in modern DBMS technologies. It is difficult to find trainees for the mainframe, let alone for pre-relational DBMS technologies,” he argued.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.