As a software vendor, we think it’s a good idea to periodically validate what we believe to be true about the value our solution provides to our customers.  Some time ago, we did just that, commissioning some third-party, “Voice of the Customer” research to find out how they are getting value from HostBridge, and to ensure that our views and their views are congruent.

We learned much from this exercise, and in this post we’ll share a summary of the value statements the customers we interviewed attributed to Hostbridge.  We pledged to keep their identity anonymous, but the six customers interviewed share common characteristics: they are all enterprises that rely on mission-critical, CICS applications running on the mainframe to operate.

Here are summaries of what they said in response to the question, “Describe the value HostBridge provides:

  • It exposes mainframe functionality to the internet/browser.  It is also lightning fast and easy to train on usage.  The speed of HostBridge creates value through a better customer experience, as it provides access to apps used by CSRs: the response time is 1.5 seconds using HostBridge, versus 18 seconds for the previous integration approach, with some screens coming back in milliseconds.
  • Agility.  A side benefit is better collaboration between web services and mainframe teams, where historically there’s been a wall between these groups. HostBridge blends both worlds, facilitating collaboration between them.
  • We don’t have to modify mainframe apps.  It insulates the mid-range team from the mainframe, and simplifies access. They get to work with the data, not screens. With HostBridge, they just have to ask, ‘what data to you need?’ and they get it as a web service.
  • Access to legacy data and transactions, with minimal disruption to legacy code. Relatively quick turnaround to expose the data as XML or JSON.  HostBridge is also much faster in terms of response time.
  • It bridges the gap between what’s new and current, and ugly ‘green screen’ legacy technology without having to reinvent it. CSRs get a consistent view, regardless of where the info came from.  And, there are no response time issues.
  • It allows applications to easily interact with the ‘systems of record’ where the transactions are happening.  It would have taken 2 or 3 steps to accomplish this without HostBridge.  HostBridge provides immediate impact on downstream systems when they connect to systems of record.  It provides current data.

We’ve spent a lot of time digesting these statements, and there are two, broad areas of value that are consistent from one HostBridge customer to the next:

  1. It’s easy.  HostBridge does not have a steep learning curve, for either mainframe or mid-range developers.  Both classes of developers can easily develop web services with HostBridge.
  2. It’s fast.  There are two dimensions of speed in the HostBridge value proposition:
    • Development and deployment.  Because HostBridge is easy to implement and use, requiring no changes to existing CICS applications, and because the development environment is JavaScript, legacy application access/integration can happen quickly.
    • Response time.   Because of the HostBridge architecture, it provides a high-performance integration bridge, which is important in an environment where every millisecond counts.

Summary of the value customers are getting from HostBridge.

There were other expressions of the HostBridge value proposition that, while not mentioned as frequently, were still very interesting:

  • Stability or reliability.  One customer describe HostBridge as “architecturally sound” while another stated that they “never had an issue with HostBridge since it has been up and running.”
  • Catalyst for collaboration.  For at least two of the customers we interviewed, HostBridge is serving as a catalyst for greater collaboration between the web services and mainframe teams. “Historically there’s been a wall between these groups, and this has caused a lot of issues in the past,” one customer shared.  “HostBridge blends both worlds, facilitating collaboration between them.”

HostBridge is a rare blend of solution that combines ease-of-use with performance and reliability.  Enterprises that need to create a bridge between legacy mainframe applications and new mobile or cloud apps will find HostBridge very capable at creating robust integrations.  They will also find that their mainframe and mid-tier developers will discover common ground on which to stand, perhaps for the first time.