Mainframe users may think they've been forgotten by the mainstream software community but much activity remains. In face, vendors are ramping up their product offerings to support growing enterprise interest in using Web services to integrate legacy data with newer applications.

Software AG in January announced plans to acquire Israel-based Sabratec Ltd., maker of ApplinX technology, which is designed to capture business logic at the presentation level of legacy applications. So, for example, a multi-step process used to enter a customer address change into an older accounting system can be captured -- preserving business logic -- and turned into a Web service, says Joe Gentry, vice president of enterprise transaction systems at Germany-based Software AG. "We can modernise those systems without touching the code," he says.

In December, IBM rolled out a new version of its CICS Transaction Server software that executives say will lets users extend mainframe data to service-oriented architectures. CICS Transaction Server for z/OS v3.1 will allow CICS to function as a provider and consumer of Web services, according to IBM.

Attachmate, which has historically focused on terminal-emulation technology to access data from mainframes, in February began shipping new tools that use Web services for integration. The Synapta tools are designed to ease the frustration of individual lines of business that want to give users access to mainframe data, says Michael Norring, Attachmate's vice president of SOA services.

NetManage, which completed its acquisition of adapter company Librados in late 2004, is focusing on using Web services not only to access data on back-end systems but also to tie that data with data from newer applications to form composite applications. In early March, NetManage announced a new version of its OnWeb host integration product that adds support for connecting to newer back-end systems from SAP, Oracle, Siebel and PeopleSoft.

"OnWeb allows you to define a business process that runs between a number of applications that already exist and define how it will be presented out to users," according to Peter Havart-Simkin, senior vice president of strategic development at NetManage.