IMS™ has been around for over half a century and some of the top fortune 100 companies continue to use IMS including many of the top banks worldwide. There is a distinct reason why this continues to be a basic fact: TRUST. Trust in IMS databases. Trust in IMS processes.  Trust in the integrity that IMS provides. 

Whether its via our extensive logging, the lock managers (PI or IRLM), or the extensive database utilities, the IMS team will never lose sight of this simple but critical fact. Let’s rediscover together why this trust has been established and continues to drive enterprises today.

Aligning with industry standards, practices and expectations is important in this digital age and for a product like IMS that is central to your enterprise, we’ve started that journey. In the IMS database area we’ve started the process of removing IMS proprietary database administration tasks like Program Specification Block Generation (PSBGEN), Database Description Generation (DBDGEN), & Application Control Block Generation (ACBGEN) and started moving towards the use of DDL for IMS administration.

The benefits of moving in this direction provide an easier on boarding of IMS professionals – both the database administrator and the application developer.

This also allows for what we call the “Universal DBA.” We are seeing a trend in the industry where the same database professional that manages Db2® or any other relational database management system, is now also being asked to manage IMS. This Universal DBA, when tasked with IMS administration, needs to be able to hit the ground running by being able to perform IMS database administration tasks just as easily as they can in relational database systems. The IMS usage of the Data Definition Language facilitates that by helping  streamline the developers experience and boost productivity and efficiency.

SQL is widely accepted and there exists a huge set of SQL skills out in the industry.  IMS understands this and over a decade ago started the SQL adoption journey.  SQL has three components: Data Definition Language (DDL), Data Manipulation Language (DML) and Data Control Language (DCL).  While DCL is on our road map, we have made much progress with DDL and DML. 

For DDL, we just released the zDDL utility which is a utility that provides an easy approach to submitting DDL without having to implement the IMS Connect & ODBM infrastructure.  With this utility we are also currently looking into providing the ability to run this utility even when IMS is down.  A powerful capability that even relational  databases don’t currently have. 

IMS offers the ability to use SQL to access and  manipulate data, leveraging the DML.  We provide this capability in IMS as part of our IMS Java solution.  With our Universal JDBC drivers you can access IMS databases from Java™️ programs by issuing JDBC calls.  Connectivity from Java programs is supported from both type 2 & type 4 connections.  This makes IMS the one database where the same data can be viewed in a hierarchical model or a relational model.  So with IMS you get both the performance of IMS and flexibility and ease of use of SQL.

It is widely known and accepted that IMS is still at or near the top when it comes to performance.  And the reason has to do with IMS’s origin.  When IMS came on the scene, processors were not as powerful and memory was at a premium.  Even the operating system was not as sophisticated as it is today and yet IMS was developed for a very important project: the Apollo space mission which had a large focus on performance.  The initial developers built the system with performance always at the forefront of development.  Performance is, and continues to be, in the DNA of IMS.

The Hierarchical nature of data is another reason clients prefer IMS.  In industries where data is inherently hierarchical in nature, modeling that data in IMS is an easier task then in relational technology.  With a wide range of applications, for example in Bill of Materials (BOM) applications, IMS is the choice of relational technology.

Data integrity along with solid restart and recovery facilities is another key reason for IMS’s continued success.  Our customers know that data relationships are not lost and if there is any failure then no data is lost either. Over time, IMS continues to perform well without any compromise in data integrity.  IMS has been reliable for over half a century and the IMS team has a responsibility to maintain that level of reliability and trust. 

Clearly the continued upward trend is for deeper and more high end IMS skill. The IMS community is a wide swath of experience and talent with a decent percentage nearing the end of their career. As a result, our direction continues to be to drive increased knowledge into the community and try to jump the number of IMS experts with urgency.

Our current education content, in a quick snapshot, clearly is getting plenty of attention and is being leveraged by many of the IMS customers. Our online, self serve content has been seen over 49 thousand times and is increasing every day. The video content the IMS education team offers has been played for over 228,000 minutes.

Trust in the IMS DB product continues to grow. Learn more at

Originally published on the IBM Z and LinuxONE Community Blog.

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