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ODM for Z System

Decision Management and IBM ODM

Business decisions are everywhere. Practically every business domain faces with business decisions in their daily operations. Here are few industry specific business questions that lead to these decisions:


  • Is the claim fraudulent?
  • Is the customer eligible for that product?
  • Should this claim be managed automatically?

Financial Services

  • Should we authorize this payment?
  • What product to recommend?
  • What is the credit risk for this loan request?


  • How many loyalty points should we attribute?
  • What is the best price for that product?
  • What discount should we give to this customer?

Public Sector

  • What tax should that citizen pay?
  • What benefit this agent can expect?
  • Is that custom declaration hiding possible fraud?


  • What package to offer for that customer?
  • Should this equipment alarm be ignored?
  • What is the severity of that incident?


  • Is that prescription valid?
  • Is that medicine suitable for that patient?
  • Are expenditures compliant with the diagnosis?

Energy & Utilities

  • Should we produce or buy energy?
  • What is the best provider to work with?
  • How to rate this equipment in the power grid?

Travel & Transport

  • How should we compensate for the delay?
  • What maintenance operations should we do?
  • What is the best seat for that passenger?

There are few Business Rules products in the market, but IBM ODM is dominates the market and is considered the best of its kind. Here are some of the major benefits of IBM Operational Decision Management (ODM):

  • Manage business policies at scale
  • Capture, automate and operationalize your business expertise
  • Enable comprehensive decision governance with social collaboration to manage business changes


Why Modernize with ODM on Z/OS

Majority of business applications running on mainframe systems use COBOL for capturing the business decisions.  Here are some of the shortcomings COBOL based business applications when it comes to change management.

  • Changes are costly, resource & time-intensive
  • Rules are hidden in COBOL code
  • Most changes have to be programmed – costly
  • Lack of consistency
  • No central management
  • No reuse of decision logic
  • Gap between business analysts & IT administrators
  • Lack of auditability
  • No easy way to test/simulate changes






Without ODM

  • Hard coded decisions are difficult to change
  • Rules intertwined within applications cannot be reused by other systems

With ODM

  • Externalized decisions are easy to change
  • Centralized decisions enable reuse and consistency

Decision Server provides development and runtime components for a rule-based solution that automates the response of highly variable decisions required by client applications. Here are some of the highlights the Rule Execution Server (RES) offers:

  • High performance & scalable rule execution
    • Support transactional and batch rule execution
    • Inference (forward-chaining) and sequential rule engine
    • Cluster enabled
  • Integrate with Java, XML, Enterprise COBOL, PL/I
  • Exposes rule services as
    • Rule Session (POJO, EJB or MDB)
    • Transparent Decision Services (Web Services)
    • REST
    • COBOL or PL/I Applications through dedicated API
  • Rule services management & monitoring
    • Rule Persistence and Versioning
    • Rule Execution Statistics & trace
    • Administration console

ODM Runtime Options on Z/OS

ODM leverages a wide range of platforms to meet the varying needs of enterprise architectures.


In ODM for z/OS rule projects are created in Rule Designer and then rules are authored in this environment or in the distributed platform. Rules get executed in one of the following environments:

  • zRule Execution Server for z/OS
  • zRule Execution Server for z/OS on CICS JVM server
  • Rule Execution Server on WebSphere Application Server for z/OS


Managing and Deploying Decisions z/OS Environments

Here is how we start and share rules from Java, COBOL , or PL/I


Simple ODM Architecture (Distributed and z/OS)


Detailed architecture of ODM for z/OS


ODM is best in the market product for business rules applications for both distributed and z/OS systems. ODM provides:

  • Agility
    • Operationalize policy changes in days versus months
    • Decrease cost of implementing business practices, policies & regulations
  • Efficiency and Productivity
    • Improve straight-through-processing
    • Involve business users for change requests with built-in governance
  • Decision Quality and Precision
    • Implement more fine-grained, targeted decisions
    • Perform what-if and impact analyses prior to deployment
  • Consistency
    • Automate and consistently enforce decision policies
    • Ensure policies and associated semantics are consistent across channels
  • Transparency, Auditability, Compliance
    • Track what decisions were made and why (runtime)
    • Track what policies were changed and by whom (rule management)

Whether it is a mainframe (COBOL) modernization or any other ODM project, Zilker Technology provides the best in the market resources to help you deliver quality solution and make you achieve your goal.

About the Author

Artur Sahakyan

is an IBM Operational Decision Management (ODM) Architect with over 7 years of experience working with the product. Artur’s background is mathematics (probability/statistics) and he has as strong knowledge in finance. He also has a profound knowledge of IBM Business Process Manager (BPM). Artur is IBM certified on latest versions of both products.



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