IBM is in danger of alienating its installed base by trying to position its CICS transaction processing (TP) monitor as suitable for use in a distributed environment.
The problem hinges on the fact that while CICS is a good mainframe product, its features were not designed for use in a distributed world.
IBM has compounded the situation by failing to clarify its middleware strategy. As a result, it had positioned CICS as a distributed middleware product by default to pick up short-term sales, said market research company Ovum.
Rosemary Rock-Evans, an analyst at Ovum, said: ?CICS is a series of products with separate code bases, but it?s nowhere as sophisticated and extensive as other offerings such as Tuxedo and Top End. It has the same application programming interface on each platform, but the ability to send a message from one platform to another is limited. In a very complex environment, users have to know what services are provided or not, but they are different for each platform, which means that what is requested underneath may not be available. This is extremely dangerous if you?re building distributed applications.?
She said that implementing cross-platform CICS was also an "administration nightmare" because staff had to set up separate directories and infrastructure for each platform and each host needed to be looked after individually.
With other environments administration was very easy and was undertaken remotely from one machine across the network.
Although Rock-Evans said that IBM?s intentions had been good in introducing a common API across its product ranges to simplify development, the effect was negative because the offerings behaved differently and simply added to the complexity. The same applied to other IBM software such as its DB2 database.
She said that IBM should focus on its Transarc Encina acquisition, which was true distributed middleware, rather than pursue its current strategy of adding elements of it into CICS.
She said that IBM?s DSOM object request broker (Orb) was, like the rest of the products on the market, not yet robust enough to support transaction processing.
While the market for Orb?s was still relatively small, it had a long way to go before it could catch up with the functionality offered by transaction processing monitors. Orbs were also very complex and developers needed to write to low-level APIs, which was a tough job, she said.
IBM refused to comment.
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