S2 Systems Releases Payment Software for iSeries Linux
May 25, 2004 Alex Woodie
S2 Systems and IBM last week announced the availability of S2’s online transaction processing system on the iSeries-Linux platform. The OpeN/2 OLTP engine is the heart of a flexible software suite that can be expanded with check capture, ATM, point-of-sale, gift card, and other add-on modules. Companies in the banking, telecommunications, and retail industries have used OpeN/2 on Unix, mainframe, and fault-tolerant Windows servers, and now iSeries shops can power their payment networks with S2’s software.
S2 Systems has more than 18 years of experience in developing transaction processing systems. As a former subsidiary of fault-tolerant computer maker Stratus Technologies, S2 Systems’ original offering, called ON/2, was designed to run on Stratus’ line of Intel-based servers loaded with Stratus’ Virtual Operating System. As bullet-proof as that arrangement was, it proved too constraining for companies that wanted to escape the grasp of proprietary platform lock-in, and wanted more options for where to run one of their most important applications–the one that handles their money.
HAL, MEET PAL
In 2000, Dallas-based S2 Systems introduced an open version of its OLTP engine, which it called, appropriately enough, OpeN/2. One of the keys to the openness of OpeN/2 is something the company calls the Platform Abstraction Layer, or PAL. S2 says that the PAL helps to isolate the platform-dependent code in the OpeN/2 engine, which was written in C, C++, and Java, from higher-level operating system services and other applications. As a result, the various modules of the suite, such as the OpeN/2:EFT (electronic funds transfer) module, do not need to know which platform they’re running on, because they only need to communicate with the OpeN/2 engine, which has been tweaked for specific operating environments. This makes it much easier to develop transaction processing applications and interfaces to the OpeN/2 suite, S2 says.
The PAL has enabled OpeN/2 to be deployed on many different platforms, including Intel-based servers running Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Linux; on several flavors of Unix, including Hewlett-Packard‘s HP-UX and Sun Microsystems‘s Solaris on RISC processors; on IBM zSeries mainframes running Linux; on mainframe-class Intel-based Windows servers from Unisys; and, of course, the fault-tolerant Stratus ftServers, which can run Linux, HP-UX, or Stratus’ Virtual Operating System.
But never before has OpeN/2 run on the iSeries, which has its own PAL, called the Hardware Abstraction Layer, or HAL. With HAL, IBM has been able to continuously improve the underlying hardware of the AS/400 without requiring modification to applications that have been written to OS/400–a feat that is still amazing and has paid dividends to thousands of users and software vendors. Some components of HAL are also thought to have been incorporated in the recently announced Virtualization Engine, which is helping the next-generation Power5-based eServer i5 computers gain industry recognition as the most flexible multi-operating-system servers on the planet.
With support for iSeries Linux, companies can now run the complete OpeN/2 suite on their iSeries servers. The suite is composed of the following modules:
The meeting of S2’s PAL and IBM’s HAL, the companies hope, will provide iSeries shops with the capability to extend customers’ OS/400 applications with the variety of transaction processing options offered by OpeN/2, while consolidating workloads at the same time.
Stephen Clark, S2 Systems president and CEO, says OpeN/2 will give iSeries users the same level of “massively scalable” transaction processing used by some of the world’s largest organizations. “OpeN/2 for Linux on iSeries allows institutions to mitigate risk by leveraging their investments in midrange platforms and applications, while using a more flexible enterprise payment solution,” says Clark.
S2 Systems has performed benchmark tests with its OpeN/2 system on a variety of platforms, including a four-way Stratus ftServer 6500 that was clocked processing more than 1,800 transactions per second, and a 16-way Unisys ES7000 topped that hit more than 7,000 transactions per second. There are several other benchmarks listed on the company’s Web site, and once the OpeN/2 has been fine-tuned for the iSeries (IBM employees have been working at S2 Systems laboratories), it’s possible that we might see some old benchmarks fall as a result of the extremely powerful new eServer i5 servers.
OpeN/2 for Linux on iSeries will work with the DB2 UDB and the WebSphere Application Server. The software is available now. For more information, go to www.s2systems.com.