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July 2, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM is adding layers to Systems Application Architecture in order to retain account control. According to the US publication Computer Systems News, IBM’s equity relationship with insurance software supplier Policy Management Systems Corp, has borne fruit and it is helping IBM to achieve dominance. IBM invested $116.8m for a 20% interest in Policy Management Systems, and the company has subsequently introduced some significant new applications called Series III. They use key SAA features such as OS/2 Extended Edition, MVS/ESA, and other strategic products like DB2, OfficeVision, ImagePlus, and Callpath. Series III applications cover property and casualty insurance applications. They revolve around a core DB2-based customer database, and integrate with other IBM technologies such as image processing and telephony. A development framework called the Insurance Application Platform acts as a link to SAA, and enables insurance companies to use additional IBM software such as CallPath, and to develop other applications. The paper says that IBM is pursuing a similar strategy with a number of business partners in vertical industries to promote SAA and industry-specific architecture compliance. In short, SAA is not the end, it is a prerequisite. Many observers believe that vertical architectures are IBM’s way of extending control from operating systems and databases through to vertical applications. Although end users could well benefit from industry architectures since applications could be built and linked together at the same time, the key to linking applications, and at the heart of IBM’s vertical architectures, are data models developed by IBM and business partners. When MVS/Repository for AD/Cycle is launched, it will contain a general purpose information model. Both IBM and Policy Management Systems are claiming that applications developed using the insurance data model will be complementary, but third-party vendors must re-engineer their products to fit into that model. Consequently, some analysts believe that IBM will gain control of independents by forcing them to buy into AD/Cycle and the Repository, or at the very least, to feed into IBM’s data model. The Repository is especially important for a number of reasons, and not least of these is mainframe sales. So long as IBM continues to sell mainframes, it is selling its highest margin products, the soft ware that goes with them, storage and services, and vitally retains long-term account control.

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