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Integrated Conversion Solutions (ICONS)

The ICONS technology is a rules-based toolset which is utilized to (1) analyze application source code and database structures, and (2) modernize the systems by applying prescribed changes in an accurate and uniform manner. This capability is effectively employed to convert legacy application systems from older, proprietary source language and database management systems (DBMS) platforms to non-proprietary language and relational databases. This conversion can also enable Web access for these mission-critical systems and free organizations from associated annual maintenance costs. The product of the ICONS processing is native-level (non-proprietary) application source code that has been converted to execute in the new, targeted database/compiler/user interface environment. ICONS has been successfully utilized, for example, to convert Unisys 2200 mainframe applications to Micro Focus COBOL operating with an Oracle database running in Windows or UNIX environments.

IAI’s experienced migration specialists use the ICONS analysis tools to examine the client’s source code, including COBOL programs and copybooks, screens, JCL or ECL, and database structures. This analysis allows us to provide a detailed assessment to the client, which helps quantify the project for planning purposes. The analysis also allows us to find those procedures and modules that are non-standard, so that we can customize the ICONS conversion tools to achieve the best level of accurate automation for the customer.

ICONS Capabilities:

ICONS supports analysis and conversion from legacy mainframe environments, including IBM z/OS and Unisys 2200, to more cost-effective, alternative platforms, including Linux, UNIX, and Windows. The ICONS toolset can convert proprietary job control language, such as IBM’s JCL or Unisys 2200 ECL, to open-source, portable Perl scripts. ICONS can be used to convert legacy screen handling languages, such as CA-Ideal and IBM’s DMS/CICS/VS to command-level CICS, from which they can more easily become web-enabled. The ICONS toolset has also been used successfully to convert legacy data files and databases to modern SQL databases, including:

  • Indexed (VSAM) files to Microsoft SQL Server
  • Unisys DMS 2200 database to Oracle
  • CA-Datacom to DB2

Part of the ICONS conversion is the creation of the new database structure along with Database I/O (DBIO) modules to access the new database. The DBIO modules allow separation of the data access layer from the business logic, which is a significant advantage when dealing with database maintenance and performance tuning.

What are the ICONS “DBIO” modules?

The ICONS Database I/O (DBIO) modules are called subroutines, usually written in COBOL with embedded SQL. Using the ICONS database mapping and combining it with the new database design, ICONS generates automatically these non-proprietary subroutines that will be used by all converted application programs to access the new database. This technique effectively enables the replacement of most legacy databases with newer relational databases such as DB2, Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase, and others.

When converting a COBOL program that currently accesses a legacy database with proprietary data access commands, the ICONS tool automatically replaces the commands with CALL ‘DBIO’ statements. The ICONS tool also inserts MOVE statements to put the values in the appropriate parameters used by the CALL ‘DBIO’ statement and to retrieve the new values (such as the database return code) after the CALL.

The ICONS main ‘DBIO’ program acts as a “traffic cop”, using the name of the record (passed from the application program) to determine which record-specific I/O subroutine to call. Each I/O subroutine contains the SQL statements to access one or more new database tables (depending on the database design), using the information passed from the application program – function, function type, set name, etc. In this manner, all I/O for an old database record would then reside in one I/O module.

All statements for database access are contained within the I/O modules. Advantages of using I/O modules instead of generating “embedded” or “inline” SQL into the original source code, include:

  • Less impact on the original source code, since changes are fewer and simpler.
  • Less time is required for converting programs, since there are fewer changes.
  • Redundancy of database calls is eliminated.
  • Knowledge base for SQL is not required for maintenance in converted application programs.
  • Centralized tuning and debugging of database access is possible by the DBA.
  • Modules can be used and accessed by other programs, making them “re-usable code”.
  • Future database migration is facilitated.