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Optimize the value of your applications, people, teams and infrastructure investments on System z

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JK Insurance wants to cut costs and grow its market share – they want to attract new customers and retain existing ones by offering higher quality service than their competitors. The company decided to transform claims processing by allowing policy holders to report and track status of their claims online 24/7 without the need for phone calls. The company set four key objectives for the project: it had to be done within a limited budget and in a short timeframe; be secure and reliable; and be easy to extend and maintain. Many applications needed for the self service Web site were in existing mainframe systems. These applications were not originally designed for integration, and modernizing them was central to meeting JK’s objectives.

Since mainframes have superior qualities for running new workloads, they make the ideal platform for JK to combine their existing mainframe transactions with new business applications. First, JK identified programs from existing systems that were necessary parts of the claims reporting process. They combined these programs – like claim entry, routing and scheduling – into a new automated customer process.

JK went “live” with their new self-service claims website in just three months. The new system relies on existing proven applications, so the solution cost a fraction of one built from scratch. Security and reliability came built-in. And the modernized applications are “integration-ready,” so components can be easily reused in future applications. JK's customers were pleased that they could file claims in just 5 minutes without using the phone, and JK was able to reduce application maintenance costs and enhance customer satisfaction.

Today’s environment is increasingly complex and unpredictable, and organizations have to be able to manage costs strategically as they optimize their operations for both effectiveness and efficiency.

Companies that can effectively leverage their existing IT systems will be better positioned for future growth and increased profitability. The IBM's Rational solutions for System z helps companies cut development and maintenance cost while maximizing the ROI of their custom and packaged applications. Implementation can start small, and grow to cover all of a company’s modernization needs, internal and external. This solution supports a Service Oriented Architecture so software can be delivered as reusable, sharable services. Let’s look at a company that uses IBM's Rational solutions for System z products to streamline customer service by creating a new customer self-service website. They plan to leverage their proven mainframe applications and the power of their System z and WebSphere Application Server for z/OS and z/Linux to run new workloads. This new solution leverages Rational Software Delivery Platform to help customers:

1. Increase flexibility by revitalizing their existing application portfolio

2. Boost developer productivity and accelerate innovation with modern skills

3. Maximize business agility by bridging organizational silos

4. Defer capital expense by optimizing their application infrastructure

Select any of the following focus areas to learn more:

1. Increase flexibility by revitalizing your existing application portfolio.

To quickly improve customer satisfaction, lower employee training costs and minimize the impact on existing applications, JK Insurance decided to modernize their existing CICS applications for wider internal use. IBM Host Access Transformation Services, or HATS, provides a quick and easy way to add a Graphical User Interface to their green-screen CICS applications, making them faster to learn, and easier to use. HATS can also provide Web services interfaces for integrating 3270 screen-based applications with other applications in the enterprise. Now, JK can extend their CICS applications to employees through the Web, Portals, and mobile devices. In building the self-service Web site, JK needed a deep understanding of their existing applications to quickly determine the full impact of their proposed changes. They used Rational Asset Analyzer to create a bottom-up enterprise-wide view of mainframe applications and their inter-relationships with existing distributed applications. Rational System Architect was used to get top-down analysis for visualizing, analyzing and communicating enterprise architecture and business process analysis throughout the project.

2. Boost developer productivity and accelerate innovation with modern skills

JK Insurance was facing a growing skills gap, resulting from a shrinking pool of skilled IT professionals who were approaching retirement. The traditional green-screen development tools also made it harder to attract new talent, people who are used to more modern graphical development environments. JK found that modern tools can help bridge this knowledge gap, while at the same time making mainframe application development and maintenance more attractive to younger IT professionals.

JK Insurance deployed Rational Developer for System z, RDz, along with the IBM Debug Tool for z/OS and Fault Analyzer for z/OS; both part of the IBM Problem Determinations Tools suite, to complete componentization and help extend their CICS transactions as services on System z. These Problem Determination tools helped JK examine, monitor and analyze any resource constraints and system failures to ensure the new services meet JK’s service level agreements. JK also wanted customers to file claims on-line with the highest possible service, so they used the Rational Developer for System z offering with EGL, to develop modern Web 2.0 based user interfaces. They built new services quickly and easily by graphically composing a sequence of CICS application interactions, using the CICS Service Flow Feature. JK used RDz with EGL to create a new claims status check service as well, completing the new application by spanning the CICS and WebSphere platforms.

They also used Web Services to integrate with business partners such as repair centers and car rental companies. Finally, RDz with EGL was used to deploy the new customer self-service components to both the CICS Transaction Server and the WebSphere Application Server for z/OS.

3. Maximize business agility by bridging organizational silos

JK Insurance has traditionally managed mainframe development separately from distributed development, which is a common practice in most IT organizations today. Each team maintains its own set of applications, development processes and tools.

JK’s applications were written in several different languages including COBOL, .Net, and Java, and were managed and maintained by several different development teams. In order for this new self service application to work properly, JK needed a tool that would manage source control, work items and company policies, as well as coordinate across the disparate teams. JK used Rational ClearCase and Rational Team Concert for System z as the foundation for the developers to manage enterprise-wide software changes and collaboration. These products also provided dashboards for the project managers to efficiently control the project.

Using Rational Team Concert for System z, JK was able to divide the project into multiple work items and activities.

To ensure new business goals and application requirements were met, JK used Rational Requirements Composer and Rational Asset Manager to manage all project deliverables to improve traceability, strengthen collaboration, and reduce project risk from the start.

4. Defer capital expense by optimizing application infrastructure

JK Insurance had a limited budget, so they were looking for a quick and low-risk way to improve performance and scalability of their existing IT infrastructure while keeping their overall development costs down. JK accomplished this by ensuring that they are using the latest IBM Compilers for System z.

The new and enhanced IBM Rational Compilers for programming languages such as COBOL, PL/I, C/C++, Fortran and Assembler are designed to help companies unleash the full power of IBM System z architecture and middleware. They often provide a bigger performance boost than a generational change in the hardware technology alone.

Compilers improve application development and deployment on z/OS. They support batch processing, legacy file systems, and provide a major programming interface for CICS, IMS and DB2. JK Insurance leveraged these capabilities to maximize application performance, improve programmer productivity, and shorten the development cycle, which resulted in lower total cost of ownership and a higher return on IT investments.

In JK's challenging environment, IBM's Rational solutions for System z provided all the tools to help make this seemingly complex task straightforward. It delivered an advanced solution in a short time. With a comprehensive portfolio of leading services, tools and skills to support the entire enterprise modernization lifecycle, IBM helped JK rein in maintenance costs and extend the life, flexibility and value of their existing applications, development skills, team collaboration and infrastructure investments.

To learn more about IBM Rational solutions for enterprise modernization, contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit:

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