Introduction to Re-Host based Modernization Using Tuxedo

18 min read


SOA enablement wraps key application interfaces in services, and integrates it into the SOA. This largely leaves the existing application logic intact, minimizing changes and adding risk only to those components that needed restructuring work to become SOA-ready. While the interfaces are modernized, without subjecting the core application components to a lot of change, the high costs and the various legacy risks associated with the mainframe platform remain. In addition, the performance and scalability of the new interfaces needs to be well-specified and tested, and the additional load they place on the system should be included in any planned capacity upgrades, potentially increasing the overall costs.

Reducing or eliminating the legacy mainframe costs and risks via re-host based modernization also helps customers to fund SOA enablement, and the re-architecture phases of legacy modernization, and lay the groundwork for these steps. SOA-enabling a re-hosted application is a much easier process on an open-systems-based, SOA-ready software stack, and a more efficient one as well in terms of system resource utilization and cost. Re-architecting selected components of a re-hosted application based on specific business needs is a lower risk approach than re-architecting the entire applications en masse, and the risk can be further reduced by ensuring that target re-hosting stack provides rugged and transparent integration between re-hosted services and new components.

Keeping It Real: Selective re-architecture is all about maximizing ROI by focusing re-architecture investment in the areas with the best pay-off. Undertaking a change from one language or development paradigm to another shouldn’t be undertaken lightly—the investment and risks need to be well understood and justified. It is the right investment for components that require frequent maintenance changes but are difficult to maintain, because of poor /structure and layered changes. The payback on re-architecture investment will come from reducing the cost of future maintenance. Similarly, components that need significant functional changes to meet new business requirements can benefit from substantial productivity increase after re-architecture to a more modern development framework with richer tools to support future changes. The payback comes from greater business agility and time-to-market improvements. On the other hand, well-structured and maintainable COBOL components that do not need extensive changes to meet business needs will have very little return to show for the significant re-architecture investment. Leaving them in COBOL on a modern, extensible platform saves significant re-architecture costs that can be invested elsewhere, reduces risk, and shortens payback time. These considerations can help to optimize ROI for medium to large modernization projects where components measure in hundreds or thousands and contain millions or tens of millions lines of code.

Re-Hosting Based Modernization

For many organizations, mainframe modernization has become a matter of ‘how’, and not ‘if’. Numerous enterprises and public sector organizations choose re-hosting as the first tangible step in their legacy modernization program precisely because it delivers the best ROI in the fastest possible manner, and accelerates the move to SOA enablement and selective re-architecture. Oracle together with our services partners provides a comprehensive re-hosting-based modernization solution that many customers have leveraged for a successful migration of selected applications or complete mainframe environments ranging from a few hundred MIPS to well over 10,000 MIPS.

Two key pillars support successful re-hosting projects:

  1. Optimal target environment that lowers the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by 50–80 percent and maintains mainframe-class Quality of Service (QoS) using open, extensible, SOA-ready, future-proof architecture
  2. Predictable, efficient projects delivered by our SI partners with proven methodologies and automated tools

Optimal target environment provided by Oracle is powered by proven open systems software stack leveraging Oracle Database and Oracle Tuxedo for a rock-solid, mainframe-class transaction processing (TP) infrastructure closely matching mainframe requirements for online applications.

Mainframe-compatible Transaction Processing: Support for IBM CICS or IMS TM applications in native COBOL or C/C++ language containers with mainframe-compatible TP features.

RASP: Mainframe-class performance, reliability, and scalability provided by Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) and Tuxedo multi-node and multi-domain clustering for load-balancing and high availability despite failure of individual nodes or network links.

Workload and System Management: End-to-end transaction and service monitoring to support 24X7 operations management provided by Oracle’s Enterprise Manager Grid Control and Tuxedo System and Application Monitor.

SOA Enablement and Integration: Extensibility with Web services using Oracle Services Architecture Leveraging Tuxedo (SALT), J2EE integration (using WebLogic-Tuxedo Connector (WTC), Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), Portal, and BPM technologies to enable easy integration of re-hosted applications into modern Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs).

Scalable Platforms and Commodity Hardware: Scalable, Linux/UNIX-based open systems from HP, Dell, Sun, and IBM, providing:

  • Performance on a par with mainframe systems for most workloads at significantly reduced TCO
  • Reliability and workload management similar to mainframe installations, including physical and logical partitioning
  • Robust clustering technologies for high availability and fail-over capabilities within a data center or across the world

The diagram below shows conceptual mapping of mainframe environment to compatible open systems infrastructure:

Introduction to Re-Host based Modernization Using Tuxedo

Predictable, efficient projects delivered by leading SIs and key modernization specialists use risk-mitigation methodologies, and automated tools honed over numerous projects to address a complete range of Online, Batch, and Data architectures, and the various technologies used in them. These project methodologies and automated tools that support them encompass all phases of a migration project:

  • Preliminary Assessment Study
  • Application Asset Discovery and Analysis
  • Application and Data Conversion (pilot or entire application portfolio)
  • System and Application Integration
  • Test Engineering
  • Regression and Performance Testing
  • Education and Training
  • Operations Migration
  • Switch-Over

Combining a proven target architecture stack that is well-matched to the needs of mainframe applications with mature methodologies supported by automated tools has led to a large and growing number of successful re-hosting projects. There is a rising interest to leverage the re-hosting approach to mainframe application modernization, as a way to get off a mainframe fast, and with minimal risk, in a more predictable manner for large, business-critical applications evolved over a long term and multiple development teams. Re-hosting based modernization approach preserves an organizations long term investment in critical business logic and data without risking business operations or sacrificing the QoS, while enabling customers to:

  • Reduce or eliminate mainframe maintenance costs, and/or defer upgrade costs, saving customers 50–80 percent of their annual maintenance and operations budget
  • Increase productivity and flexibility in IT development and operations, protecting long-term investment through application modernization
  • Speed up and simplify application integration via SOA, without losing transactional integrity and the high performance expected by the users

The rest of this article explores the critical success factors and proven transformation architecture for re-hosting legacy applications and data, describes SOA integration options and considerations when SOA-enabling re-hosted applications, highlights key risk mitigation methodologies, and provides a foundation for the financial analysis and ROI model derived from over a hundred, mainframe re-hosting projects.

Critical Success Factors in Mainframe Re-Hosting

Companies considering a re-hosting-based modernization strategy that involves migrating some applications off the mainframe have to address a range of concerns, which can be summarized by the following questions:

  • How to preserve the business logic of these applications and their valuable data?
  • How to ensure that migrated applications continue to meet performance requirements?
  • How to maintain scalability, reliability, transactional integrity, and other QoS attributes in an open system environment?
  • How to migrate in phases, maintaining robust integration links between migrated and mainframe applications?
  • How to achieve predictable, cost-effective results and ensure a low-risk project?

Meeting these challenges requires a versatile and powerful application infrastructure—one that natively supports key mainframe languages and services, enables automated adaptation of application code, and delivers proven, mainframe-like QoS on open system platforms. For re-hosting to enable broader aspects of the modernization strategy, this infrastructure must also provide native Web services and ESB capabilities to rapidly integrate re-hosted applications as first-class services in an SOA.

Equally important is a proven, risk-mitigation methodology, automated tools, and project services specifically honed to address automated conversion and adaptation of application code and data, supported by cross-platform test engineering and execution methodology, strong system and application integration expertise, and deep experience with operations migration and switch-over.

Preserving Application Logic and Data

The re-hosting approach depends on a mainframe-compatible transaction processing and application services platform supporting common mainframe languages such as COBOL and C, which preserves the original business logic and data for the majority of mainframe applications and avoids the risks and uncertainties of a re-write. A complete re-hosting solution provides native support for TP and Batch programs, leveraging an application server-based platform that provides container-based support for COBOL and C/C++ application services, and TP APIs similar to IBM CICS, IMS TM, or other mainframe TP monitors.

Online Transaction Processing Environment

Oracle Tuxedo is the most popular TP platform for open systems, as well as leading re-hosting platform that can run most of mainframe COBOL and C applications unchanged in container-based framework that combines common application server features, including health monitoring, fail-over, service virtualization, and dynamic load balancing critical to large-scale OLTP applications together with standard TP features, including transaction management and reliable coordination of distributed transactions (a.k.a. Two-Phase Commit or XA standard). It provides the highest possible performance and scalability, and has been recently benchmarked against a mainframe at over 100,000 transactions per second, with sub-second response time.

Oracle Tuxedo supports common mainframe programming languages, that is, COBOL and C, and provides comprehensive TP features compatible with CICS and IMS TM, which makes it a preferred application platform choice for re-hosting CICS or IMS TM applications with minimal changes and risks. In the Tuxedo environment, COBOL or C business logic remains unchanged. The only adaptation required is automated mapping of CICS APIs (CICS EXEC calls) to equivalent Tuxedo API functions.

This mapping typically leverages a pre-processor and a mapping library implemented on Tuxedo platform, and using a full range of Tuxedo APIs. The automated nature of pre-processing and comprehensive coverage provided by the library ensures that most CICS COBOL or C programs are easily transformed into Tuxedo services. Unlike other solutions that embed this transformation in their compiler coupled with a proprietary emulation run-time, Tuxedo-based solution provides this mapping as a compiler-independent source module, which can be easily extended as needed. The resultant code uses Tuxedo API at native speed, allowing it to reach tens of thousands of transactions per second, while taking advantage of all Tuxedo facilities. In a re-hosted application CICS transactions become Tuxedo services, registered for processing by Tuxedo server processes. These services can be deployed in a single machine or across multiple machines in a Tuxedo domain (SYSPLEX-like cluster.). The services are called by front-end Java, .Net, or Tuxedo/WS clients, or UI components (tn3270 or web-based converted 3270/BMS screens), or by other services in case of transaction linking. Deferred transactions are handled by Tuxedo’s/Q component, which provides in-memory and persistent queuing services.

The diagram below shows Oracle Tuxedo and its surrounding ecosystem of SOA, J2EE, ESB, CORBA, MQ, and Mainframe integration components:

Introduction to Re-Host based Modernization Using Tuxedo


User Interface Migration

The UI elements in these programs are typically defined using CICS Basic Mapping Support (BMS) for 3270 “green screen” terminals. While it is possible to preserve these using tn3270 emulation, many customers in re-hosting projects choose to take advantage of automated conversion of BMS macros into JSP/HTML for Web UI. Supported by a specialized Javascript library, these Web screens mimic the appearance and the behavior of “green screens” in a web browser, including tab-based navigation and PF keys. These UI components can connect to re-hosted CICS transactions running as Tuxedo services using Oracle Jolt (Java client interface for Tuxedo), Weblogic-Tuxedo Connector (WTC), or Tuxedo’s Web services gateway provided by Oracle Services Architecture Leveraging Tuxedo (SALT) product.

The diagram on the next page depicts a target re-hosting architecture for a typical mainframe OLTP application. The architecture uses Tuxedo services to run re-hosted CICS programs and a web application server to run re-hosted BMS UI. The servlets or JSPs containing the HTML that defines the screens, connect with Tuxedo services via Oracle Jolt, WTC, or SALT.

Introduction to Re-Host based Modernization Using Tuxedo

Customers using mainframe 4GLs or languages such as PL/I or Assembler frequently choose to convert these applications to COBOL or C/C++. The adaptation of CICS or IMS TM API calls is automated through a mapping layer, which minimizes overall changes for the development team and allows them to maintain the familiar applications. For more significant extensions and new capabilities, customers incrementally leverage Tuxedo’s own APIs and facilities, or leverage a tightly-linked J2EE environment provided by the WebLogic Server, and even transparently make Web services calls. The optimal extensibility options depend on application needs, availability of Java or C/COBOL skills, and other factors.


Feature or Action


Tuxedo API

Communications Area


Typed Buffer

Transaction Request



Transaction Return



Transfer Control



Allocate Storage





/Q tpenqueue / tpdequeue

Begin new transaction



Abort transaction


tpreturn TPFAIL

Commit or Rollback



tpcommit / tpabort



Keeping it Real:For those familiar with CICS, this is a very short example of the CICS verbs. CICS has many functions, most of which either map natively to a similar Tuxedo API or are provided by migration specialists based on their extensive experience with such migrations.

In summary, Tuxedo provides a popular platform for deploying, executing, and managing COBOL and C re-hosted transactional applications requiring any of the following OLTP and infrastructure services:

  • Native, compiler-independent support for COBOL, C, or C++
  • Rich set of infrastructure services for managing and scaling diverse workloads
  • Feature-set compatibility and inter-operability with IBM CICS and IMS/TM
  • Two-Phase Commit (2PC) for managing transactions across multiple application domains and XA-compliant resource managers (databases, message queues)
  • Guaranteed inter-application messaging and transactional queuing
  • Transactional data access (using XA-compliant resource managers) with ACID qualities
  • Services virtualization and dynamic load balancing
  • Centralized management of multiple nodes in a domain, and across multiple domains
  • Communications gateways for multiple traditional and modern communication protocols
  • SOA Enablement through native Web services and ESB integration

Workload Monitoring and Management

An important aspect of the mainframe environment is workload monitoring and management, which provides information for effective performance analysis and capabilities that enable mainframe systems to achieve better throughput and responsiveness. Oracle’s Tuxedo System and Application Monitor (TSAM) provides similar capabilities too.

  • Define monitoring policies and patterns based on application requests, services, system servers such as gateways, bridges, and XA-defined stages of a distributed transaction
  • Define SLA thresholds that can trigger a variety of events within Tuxedo event services including notifications, and instantiation of additional servers
  • Monitor transactions on an end-to-end basis from a client call through all services across all domains involved in a client request
  • Collect service statistics for all infrastructure components such as servers and gateways
  • Detail time spent on IPC queues, waiting on network links, and time spent on subordinate services

TSAM provides a built-in, central, web-based management and monitoring console, and an open framework for integration with third-party performance management tools.

Batch Jobs

Mainframe batch jobs are a response to a human 24-hour clock on which many businesses run. It includes beginning-of-period or end-of-period (day, week, month, quarter) processing for batched updates, reconciliation, reporting, statement generation, and similar applications. In some industries, external events tied to a fixed schedule such as intra-day, opening or closing trade in a stock exchange, drive specific processing needs. Batch applications are an equally important asset, and often need to be preserved and migrated as well. The batch environment uses Job Control Language (JCL) jobs managed and monitored by JES2 or JES3 (Job Entry System), which invoke one or more programs, access and manipulate large datasets and databases using sort and other specialized utilities, and often run under the control of a job scheduler such as CA-7/CA-11.

JCL defines a series of job steps—a sequence of programs and utilities, specifies input and output files, and provides exception handling. Automated parsing and translation of JCL jobs to UNIX scripts such as Korn shell (ksh) or Perl, enables the overall structure of the job to remain the same, including job steps, classes, and exception handling. Standard shell processing is supplemented with required utilities such as SyncSort, and support for Generation Data Group (GDG) files. REXX/CLIST/PROC scripting environments on the mainframe are similarly converted to ksh or other scripting languages.

Integration with Oracle Scheduler, or other job schedulers running in UNIX/Linux or Windows provides a rich set of calendar and event-based scheduling capabilities as well as dependency management similar to mainframe schedulers. In some cases, reporting done via batch jobs can be replaced using standard reporting packages such as Oracle BI Publisher.

The diagram below shows a typical target re-hosting architecture for batch. It includes a scheduler to control and trigger batch jobs, scripting framework to support individual job scripts, and an application server execution framework for the batch COBOL or C programs. Unlike other solutions that run these programs directly as OS processes without the benefit of application server middleware, Oracle recommends using container-based middleware to provide higher reliability, availability, and monitoring to the batch programs.

Introduction to Re-Host based Modernization Using Tuxedo

The target batch programs invoked by the scripts can also run directly as OS processes, but if mainframe-class management and monitoring similar to JES2 or JES3 environment is a requirement, these programs can run as services under Tuxedo, benefiting from the health monitoring, fail-over, load balancing, and other application server-like features it provides.

Files and Databases

When moving platforms (mainframe to open systems), the application and data have to be moved together. Data schemas and data stores need to be moved in a re-hosted mainframe modernization project just as with a re-architecture. The approach taken depends on the source data store. DB2 is the most straightforward, since DB2 and Oracle are both relational databases. In addition to migrating the data, customers sometimes choose to perform data cleansing, field extensions, merge columns, or other data maintenance practices leveraging the automated tooling that synchronizes all data changes with changes to the application’s data access code.

Mainframe DB2

DB2 is a predominant relational database on IBM mainframes. When migrating to Oracle Database, the migration approach is highly automated, and resolves all discrepancies between the two RDBMS in terms of field formats as well as error codes returned to applications, so as to maintain application behavior unchanged, including stored procedures if any.


IMS/DB (also known as DL/1) is a popular hierarchical database for older applications. Creating appropriate relational data schema for this data requires an understanding of the application access patterns so as to optimize the schema for best performance based on the most frequent access paths. To minimize code impact, a translation layer can be used at run-time to support IMS DB style data access from the application, and map it to appropriate SQL calls. This allows the applications to interface with the segments, now translated as DB2 UDB or ORACLE tables, without impacting application code and maintenance.


VSAM files are used for keyed-sequential data access, and can be readily migrated to ISAM files or to Oracle Database tables wherever transactional integrity is required (XA features). Some customers also choose to migrate VSAM files to Oracle Database to provide accessibility from other distributed applications, or to simplify the re-engineering required to extend certain data fields or merge multiple data sources.

Meeting Performance and Other QoS Requirements

The mainframe’s performance, reliability, scalability, manageability, and other QoS attributes have earned it pre-eminence for business-critical applications. How well do re-hosting solutions measure up against these characteristics? Earlier solutions based on IBM CICS emulators derived from development tools often did not measure up to the demands of mainframe workloads since they were never intended for true production environment and have not been exposed to large-scale applications. As a result, they have only been used for re-hosting small systems under 300 MIPS and not requiring any clustering or distributed workload handling.

Oracle Tuxedo was built to scale ground up, to support high performance telecommunications operations. It has the distinction of being the only non-mainframe TP solution recognized for its mainframe-like performance, reliability, and QoS characteristics. Most large enterprise customers requiring such capabilities in distributed systems have traditionally relied on Tuxedo. Consistently rated by IDC and Gartner as the market leader, and predominant in non-mainframe OLTP applications, it has also become the preferred COBOL/C application platform and transaction engine for re-hosted mainframe applications requiring high performance and/or mission-critical availability and reliability.

Reasons for the broad recognition of Tuxedo as the only mainframe-class application platform and transaction engine for distributed systems are based on mainframe-class performance, scalability, reliability, availability, and other QoS attributes proven in multiple customer deployments. The following table highlights some of these capabilities:




Guaranteed messaging and transactional


Hardened code from 25 years of use

in the world’s largest transaction


Transaction integrity across systems and

domains through a two phase commit

(XA) for all resources such as databases,

queues, and so on.

Proven in mainframe-to-mainframe

transactions and messaging

No single point of failure, 99.999% uptime with

N+1/N+2 clusters

Application services upgradeable in operation

Self-monitoring, automated fail-over, datadriven

routing for super high availability

Centralized monitoring and management

with clustered domains; automated, lights-out




Workload Management


Performance and Scalability


Resource management and prioritization

across Tuxedo services

Dynamic load balancing across domains

based on load conditions

Data-driven routing enables horizontally

distributed database grids and

differentiated QoS

End-to-end monitoring of Tuxedo system

and application services enables SLA


Virtualization support enables spawning

of Tuxedo servers on demand

Parallel processing to maximize resource

utilization with low latency code paths that

provide sub-second response at any load

Horizontal and vertical scaling of system

resources yields linear performance increases

Request multiplexing (synchronous and

asynchronous) maximizes CPU utilization

Proven in credit card authorizations at over

13.5K tps, and in telco billing at over 56K tps.

Middleware of choice in HP, Fujitsu, Sun,

IBM, and NEC TPC-C benchmarks




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here