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White Papers : Data Integration ToolsDatabase Integration Tools

Add Structure to Unstructured Core Data
A 10 minute step-by-step white paper
by Micro Focus and HiT Software, Inc.

Industry figures quote that at least 60% of corporate business data and logic is still stored in “ core” systems, such as mainframes, AS/400s, and UNIX systems. An even more impressive statistic is that all the COBOL (running on Mainframe) daily transactions exceed the total daily number of hits on the Internet. These COBOL transactions represent the vast majority of business transactions and therefore, business data.

Multiple methods of tapping into the data behind these transactions exist. Some complicated, some not so complicated. Methods from non-intrusive screen scraping to direct WebSphere MQ integration, to Web services being called directly from CICS.

The bottom line is that when it comes to exposing data locked within core systems, the data is actually being moved out of one system, and into another to preserve or create structure where there once was none.

Most organizations tend to overcomplicate this integration. Some organizations try to unload and migrate all the information from core applications to a more modern packaged application like SAP. What some organizations fail to realize is that the core application has been molded and has evolved over the past 10 years to fit their exact needs. The CIO expects SAP to fit into the organization overnight which is almost always an impossibility. Additionally, some organizations expect the performance to remain on par with the core system. There is a reason that these core systems have survived for so long: they are built to perform.

Another subset of organizations decide to pump and dump the data to work in conjunction with a new packaged application. This involves either a massive export/import process nightly or involves bus-based integration like with JMS or WebSphereMQ. If the IT organization’s pockets are deep enough and there is enough collective will within the organization to force a pump and dump solution, it will eventually work out.

In reality, when it comes to using core data and transactions for use outside the core system, the most realistic method used by organizations is the structured real time export of typically unstructured data: the organization decides to keep the core system as the primary system of record while enabling external data users and business units with structured data via relational database (RDBMS). This is a win-win for the organization since external users like analysts or accountants have access to the data in a meaningful way and the primary users of the system continue to run business as usual.

The fastest, easiest, and most advanced way of exporting this data in real time with structure is to use two technologies from two industry leaders.

The first part of the overall solution is from Micro Focus and it is called OnWeb®. Micro Focus OnWeb is a full featured core integration server that is capable of moving green screens to the Web, combining core transactions into Web services, and encapsulating and self-describing unstructured core transactions. Micro Focus OnWeb integrates core transactions for some of the largest companies on the Fortune 500.

The second part of the overall solution requires specialized technology in both mapping and databases. When it comes to providing a solution that requires strong skills in these specialized areas, together with a large market presence and experience, there is none better than HiT Software, Inc and their Allora database mapping product. Allora leverages leading edge XML mapping and database technology to give application developers bi-directional access to relational databases without the need for complex SQL or XSLT programming.

Combining these two products, Micro Focus OnWeb and Allora, an organization can, within 10 minutes and without writing any SQL statements, export unstructured core screen data into any structured RDBMS in real time.

This white paper demonstrates that capability and outlines the process.

Next: Conclusion

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