Data, data accessibility, data security and the reduction in the expense of accessing ageing data is at the very top of everybody’s list.
We spoke to one of the top experts in IDMS modernisation Cindy Howard, Vice President of Technology and Solutions at Advanced. Cindy was originally an IDMS developer and helped Modern Systems (now Advanced) to develop its tooling for automated conversion of IDMS into other technologies and everything that goes with that. She has co-written an IBM Redbook and has overseen many successful modernisation projects including, specifically IDMS.
Watch the full discussion here, or keep reading as we’ve picked out some interesting views on IDMS and its surrounding ecosystem.
What were the attractive components of IDMS in its peak and what makes it unique?
"Most importantly, ADS/Online were there. The opportunity to have an active dictionary where the source code could reside and be kept organised was super helpful as well as the language itself – you could write a dialogue with a couple of screens and another dialogue on another screen and have it working in just ten minutes. So, the database itself being a network database, had a lot of flexibility for relating."
You really cannot talk about IDMS without mentioning the talent scarcity. Can you talk a little bit about what you've seen in the market?
"Those that worked on IDMS back in the 1980s when IDMS was in its heyday are now nearing retirement. As well multiple training companies for those skills have declined too which has impacted this resource.
"It’s a major determining factor, as well as licensing costs on why our customers have made the decision to modernise.
"Our team on the other hand, we have well-seasoned IDMS DBAs and relational DBAs who work on our tooling and on all the projects that we have. Expertise really is the determining factor of modernisation success."
What are the most viable options for IDMS modernization based upon your experience?
"It depends on what organisations have, if they have systems that they've been running for 30-40 years, and they're stable, they don't really have too do much to them. The environment where everything is running well is one that you want to either pick up and continue to run well, with a modern technology or platform.
"If they want to go into something that's more scalable but have the same look, feel and composition that can be very beneficial. Not having to do any end user retraining but running applications in the cloud - that's a beautiful thing. And those are the types of scenarios we can do.
"When we hear from organisations, in some cases they say, 'This doesn't serve our business anymore. We need to do something completely different.' Well, that's not fitting for a conversion. If you wanted to keep the same thing that you had, that's fitting for a conversion. We do help customers with off the shelf packaging, for example an ERP package to replace half of their IDMS application set, or some other technology that they’re bringing in.
"We can help with staging of the IDMS data, at least get it into a relational format so that it can ETL between what was there before to the new databases.
We speak to many organisations who have concerns in what they are about to do - whether that is to rewrite, use a COTS package, or completely convert it - we'll pick it up and put it on any platform with any relational database that they choose.
"We present all the options, we listen, and help organisations plan. We want to make sure in what they choose today will also be suitable for the future."
What’s the one question that you would advise organisations to ask when it comes to qualifying a partner for modernisation?
"I think that the most important one, especially in the case of IDMS is “What is your level of experience on IDMS?” The first time that you come across a 32K page that has bit level code in it would make many panic, so make sure the partner has the skills so that they don’t trip over the hard or unique things that have been done from the past 30-40 years.
"Again, we have DBAs who are also relational DBAs. We have former IDMS ADS/Online talent, everybody who's involved in a project around IDMS, has IDMS experience."