by Serge Grauloup, Director of Bull’s novascale/GCOS center of expertise
Serge Grauloup’s team gets involved in infrastructure modernization projects for big mainframe customers. For many years now, developments and innovations have enabled transactional applications to interact with the open world (Java EE…). The latest innovation? The launch of ‘LiberTP’, a new-generation transaction processing monitor.
© Bull / F. Daburon
Winning back room for maneuver
In many sectors of the economy – from finance and the public sector to transport and telecommunications – whole areas of business activity depend on transaction processing applications. They manage critical operations, such as purchasing, bookings and customer account management, and ensure their integrity, no matter what happens. These transaction processing applications are generally extremely robust and powerful, and are designed to meet the specific needs of each customer.
But they are usually written in Cobol or C, and run in proprietary environments which are hardly open at all: a major obstacle when it comes to any kind of evolution. Despite this, transactional applications cannot remain untouched by a trend that is affecting every other aspect of information systems: the move towards greater openness and flexibility, especially with the advent of cloud computing. Naturally, IT Departments are asking themselves how they should be modernizing their legacy applications, with two main concerns: on the one hand, not to risk compromising significant investments and well-proven systems; and on the other, to keep control over their maintenance costs and facilitate greater openness towards the rest of the information system.
To address both these concerns, Bull has designed LiberTP™, a Java EE-compatible transaction processing monitor that lets organizations modernize their legacy transactional applications in a totally controlled framework and, as a result, win back room for maneuver on the financial and technical fronts.
Moving from the client/server era to the post-PC age
Modernizing transaction processing applications is a vital issue. Most existing applications have been written in C or Cobol (it is reckoned that 85% of transactions worldwide are still carried out in these languages) and run on mainframes or in a Unix environment, thanks to the Tuxedo® transactional monitor, integrated with Oracle® Fusion Middleware. However, as the use of Java EE application servers has become widespread, the Java world is becoming increasing powerful when it comes to information systems; so transaction processing has found itself more and more isolated, technologically, even if there is a desire to make it more open.
Financially, that isolation is expensive: supporting a transactional monitor can represent a significant cost, and expert Cobol resources are increasingly scarce and, as a result, costly too. In addition the end of the support of a proprietary transactional monitor on Itanium®, HP-UX® customers has been sidelined.
In technical terms, these transactional monitors were conceived in the 1980s for client/server type architectures, which are no longer appropriate for today’s ‘mobile’ clients (smart phones, tablets) or cloud architectures.
So everything points to the need to adapt transactional applications written in Cobol and C for Java EE environments.
New-generation transaction processing monitor running on AIX ® or Linux: open and ultra-powerful
Based partly on an XATMI transaction processing monitor and compatible with Java EE standards, LiberTP has been designed by Bull’s experts to meet the needs of organizations that want to modernize their transactional applications for the dawn of the cloud computing age. With LiberTP, it is possible to have C, Cobol and Java applications running side by side in the same Java EE technical environment, even in virtualized mode. So with liberTP, businesses can keep their legacy transactional applications, modernize them and develop new applications, freeing themselves from the constraints of languages, operating systems and databases.
Developed in Java and incorporating numerous Open Source elements that have been made reliable and robust by Bull’s engineers, LiberTP puts also the emphasis on performance. At the end of a six-month trial period, one of Bull’s big customers who piloted the solution attested not only to LiberTP’s reliability and robustness, but also that it was twice as powerful as its current application, based on a legacy transactional monitor.
A global specialist in mission-critical systems and Open Source
As Europe’s only publisher of transactional systems, Bull has acquired internationally recognized experience. The Group is effectively one of the key players in the mainframe world – having been the first Tuxedo distributor in Europe – and a pioneer in Java middleware, as one of the founder members of the OW2 consortium. Bull has also developed leading-edge expertise in implementing Open Source components within information systems, having been the first manufacturer in the world to combine Open Source software and intensive production so closely. In particular, Bull has demonstrated at CNAF (the family branch of the French social security system) that it is possible to use PostgreSQL for extremely large-scale, mission-critical applications. The fruit of Bull’s significant investments in R&D, LiberTP is the synthesis of all these experiences.
Rapid application porting
In particular, LiberTP implements a strategy of porting rather than migration, to minimize both cost and risks. This way, the operation does not require any rewriting and has no impact whatsoever on the application or the data it uses. On the other hand, once it is in the open environment, it becomes easy to update and integrate it with other systems, or to add new functionality to it. So porting applications to Java EE using LiberTP can be seen as the first step towards a more global approach to modernizing legacy transactional systems.
To support its customers, Bull has developed a comprehensive methodology based around LiberTP, which starts with an audit of the environment, so as to fully understand its characteristics and constraints. Bull then develops a Proof of Concept, and can subsequently manage the porting project. Everything has been done to ensure the fastest possible implementation, and the whole operation can take place in just a few weeks, in a way totally transparent to users.
Our center of excellence offers demonstrations and large-scale simulations of LiberTP to interested customers. Choosing to port a critical application is a difficult decision, as it may seem to pose too many risks for too few benefits. But with LiberTP, the risks are totally under control, and the direct benefits – as well as, above all, the indirect ones – of a fully modernized transaction processing system, freed from its silo, tend to be realized very quickly.
 Transactions have to meet so-called ‘ACID’ criteria (Atomicity, Coherency, Isolability, Durability)