SOA Software Brings RESTful APIs to Mainframe Applications

There are trillions of dollars in transactions that to this day still depend on mainframes to be processed. This means any API economy that wants to succeed must ultimately include one of the most venerable platforms in all of enterprise IT.

SOA Software today announced that its Lifecycle Manager software for designing, developing and managing APIs now supports mainframes running z/OS. While SOAP-based Web services are fairly common within mainframe environments, there is little awareness that RESTful APIs are a less complex method for integrating mainframe applications with other systems, says SOA Software senior vice president Brent Carlson.

At the same time, however, it’s also becoming clear that thousands of Web applications must be integrated with the applications on a mainframe that are responsible for processing of trillions of dollars in transactions.

The popular conception is that mainframes are dying, but the reality of the situation is more nuanced. The lower end of the mainframe market is clearly being usurped by distributed systems. But at the high end, more applications are being consolidated on increasingly powerful mainframe systems. The end result is that mainframes as a whole wind up running fewer applications, but the ones that remain have never been more business-critical.

This year, IBM is marking the 50th anniversary of the mainframe. As part of the celebration, IBM is taking pains to highlight mainframe application modernization efforts, which naturally include the use of RESTful APIs. At the same time, APIs are being introduced to mainframe sites that are adopting Linux, which now accounts for more than 25 percent of the new workloads running on a mainframe. Naturally, most of those mainframe Linux instances are being deployed in support of applications written in Java.

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One of the benefits of using Lifecycle Manager is the same tools that organizations use to manage APIs on distributed systems running Linux can now also be applied to traditional z/OS applications, Carlson says. Governance of APIs is becoming an increasingly important issue within the enterprise, and Carlson is betting that API lifecycle management, especially as it relates to version control, is going to be a much more significant issue in 2014.

The emergence of RESTful APIs on the mainframe represents something of a coming of age for the API economy. It’s clear that the global economy has been dependent on mainframes for decades. With RESTful APIs now running on the z/OS mainframe, it’s also now clear that the global economy is never going to be the same again.

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