Integrating CICS and Other Enterprise Applications Using Web Services
Nearly all enterprises rely on different information systems – mainframe and distributed – to perform varied business functions. Often these same enterprises also have deployed multiple applications over decades to carry out the same business process with different data sets. Integration has brought these enterprises a range of benefits.
Sharing data between systems has streamlined processes within and between organizations. Integrating applications has reduced redundancy and duplication of effort – or even eliminated labor-intensive processes. In economic terms, integration has reduced operating costs, extended the life of existing systems, prevented expensive re-engineering or migration, and increased returns on trusted investments.
These benefits have multiplied as integration itself has evolved over the past decade and more. The emergence of Web services as the industry standard for near-universal system interoperability has revolutionized enterprise integration. Today, enterprises continue to deploy Web services to enable or improve system interoperability, eliminate older, higher-cost point-to-point integration products, and build efficient, economical service-oriented architectures for the entire organization.
Unifying Applications at a Financial Institution
A provider of financial services and insurance products uses four disparate systems to manage loan processing and related data – a CICS-based loan management system, two loan origination applications, and a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Because personnel had to juggle these four systems, efficiency and productivity suffered and the loan business was falling short of goals. Loan officers would enter data in a loan origination application and then, upon approval, perform the same inputs with the loan accounting system. When customer information was changed in the loan accounting system, data entry personnel had to key the same changes into the CRM system.
The provider overcame these problems through integration, using HostBridge Web services to integrate its mainframe-based loan management system with its other applications. HostBridge makes the CICS application and its data accessible to and within the CRM’s web-based front end; it also plays a pivotal role in automated backend data exchange.
HostBridge XML – auto-converted from CICS data streams – is consumed by the loan management application. Where a select group of trained users once logged into the mainframe as a separate system via terminal emulation, employees across the company now access the full functionality of the loan application within the CRM.
The provider also uses its integration infrastructure to automate backend integration.
Whenever any application is updated, rules-based automation updates all other
applications with the same data. HostBridge serves as the integration engine
for the mainframe bi-directionally, as data source or destination. As a result
of its integration strategy, including HostBridge, the company has seen a 70
percent increase in productivity and increased new loan volume by 16 percent
in just the first year of implementation.