What is Mobius?
If you read our blog introducing IBM CMOD as a founding father of modern enterprise content management systems, it’s reasonable to say that Mobius is CMOD’s quirky uncle.
Like IBM Content Manager OnDemand, Mobius has its roots in the storage, re-creation, and delivery of mainframe green-bar reports. Originally called InfoPac, short for “Information Packeter,” it evolved to simplify the storage and delivery of very large documents that were delivered with some cadence (i.e., daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Mobius provided page separation and bundling for delivery to the business.
InfoPac started as a report bursting and bundling tool. This evolved into an online viewing, storing, and reprinting tool, then onto distributed platforms with browser access. Early in the 2000s, in addition to the mainframe, Mobius had grown to support distributed platforms (UNIX and Windows) and expanded from legacy reports and report formats to distributed formats (PCL, PDF, PS, and many image formats). Finally, as the nascent Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software space was emerging, Mobius recognized the threat and adapted to support more document formats.
At its core, the sweet spot for classic Mobius customers has these characteristics:
- Backend – Mobius captures report output created by a server-side application.
- Immutable – Once captured, the content marks a point-in-time and will never change. (i.e., Quarterly financial reports or bank and credit-card statements)
- Repeated – Content captured into Mobius is designed to be consistent and periodic (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). Mobius provides configuration tools that allow you to interrogate the incoming document and classify it based upon attributes in the document. In other words, you need to configure Mobius for any new content type.
- Dynamic security – and document separation. Mobius documents were secured and separated based upon the content contained within them. For example, a phone bill containing transaction details for thousands of customers could be dynamically secured for delivery to a single user.
- High-volume – Mobius is known for capturing massive reports (like a credit card company generating a monthly statement) and storing them at scale.
- High compression – By storing a large statement run as a single document instead of thousands of individual statements can provide large economies of scale.
Today, although Mobius still offers a robust COLD (Computer Output to Laser Disk) solution, the need to memorialize a printed dataset at a “point in time” in the form of a report has largely been replaced by more modern technologies. Large databases, data lakes, data warehouses, and other more modern technologies offer similar functionality for data extraction but allow you to query and analyze the data – rather than being locked into a semi-structured report format.
Further, multiple acquisitions have placed Mobius’ future in doubt; most recently, Rocket Software acquired the company in 2022. It appears that Mobius is mostly feature complete in today’s terms as the sales team focuses on maximizing the revenue stream out of their existing customer base.
As legacy ecosystems are retired, migrated, and re-architected combined with Mobius’, the need to maximize remaining revenue streams becomes more relevant. These applications are extremely sticky. A legacy Mobius application can hold 30 years of historical content and be connected to dozens of legacy systems. To complicate matters, it usually pre-dates a formal records management policy.
This all adds up to cost and complexity to replace, not to mention the requirement to re-architect the back-end feeds that deliver content to the repository. As corporations offload legacy IT infrastructure and migrate to the cloud, we consistently run into Mobius as one of the last challenges in our customers’ application retirement program.
So, Now What?
The requirement to store point-in-time data with an electronic report has largely been replaced by an entire category of tools for archival and analytics – including data warehouses, data lakes, and dozens of other purpose-built tools. There are several content archival solutions that can easily address historical data for corporations that still need to keep legacy content.
So now for the good news. Migration to a low-cost content archive is not as complex as you think. Further, it may be more affordable to migrate into an archival application than to renew Mobius licenses.
Archive solutions are purpose built to capture, store, and deliver legacy content (data and documents) inexpensively and efficiently. They are designed to provide Minimum Viable Product (MVP) functionality at a fraction of the cost required to maintain your Mobius environment. They take advantage of low-cost object storage both on premises and in the cloud, are built on low-cost/no-cost open-source technologies and offer additional functionality for analytics and re-use of the data locked in the content.
How Can Platform 3 Solutions Help?
As mentioned previously, migration to a low-cost, compliant alternative is not as complex as you think. Crucially, you need to find a partner familiar with Mobius’ core functionality who can migrate and enable access to a more cost-effective platform without sacrificing critical user requirements. Platform 3 Solutions focuses solely on helping our customers archive, migrate, and manage legacy content into a compliant content archive using our purpose-built connectors.
Here are 5 typical characteristics of a Mobius deployment:
- Hundreds or thousands of legacy reports in Mobius with no retention or disposition policies and no idea what to do with them.
- The custodians of the environment are not the owners of the business data, so there’s no clear understanding of the value of the content.
- Mobius is responsible for dozens (or hundreds) of TB of data.
- Hundreds (or thousands) of report definitions – with new content being uploaded daily.
- Lack of a clear understanding of who uses the reports, why they are generated, and what business or compliance value they have.
With these challenges, it’s hard to know where to start when considering retiring the Mobius product. The Platform 3 services team is specially trained to address these challenges. We can help you understand the age of the content, identify usage, and work with you to identify a path for migration. Our experienced team typically finds, after completion of our discovery and interview process, that Mobius migrations usually involve a much smaller fraction of the source content. Platform 3 can support day-forward capture of ongoing content for those applications that still require it, and through our methodology, do so with a better understanding of the retention and disposition requirements.
Mobius still provides unique functionality in some edge cases. Things like complex report bundling, Topic Indexes, imaging, and the need to maintain annotations are all advanced conversations the P3 team can address.
Platform 3 Solutions Approach To Mobius
Platform 3 Solutions provides extraction of reports from Mobius mainframe systems using our purpose-built Archon Mobius connector. We can recall VSAM datasets from Tape to Disk to avoid application freezes. This offers flexibility to identify report, version, section, page, and even topic indexes, and can address massive repositories. P3 offers storage tiering to balance your need for high-speed access with the demand for low-cost storage requirements.
As indicated above, reports captured in Mobius are generated on a recurring basis. For example, reports on personnel, sales, and inventory may be generated annually, monthly, and weekly, respectively. Each time a report is captured, Mobius creates a new report version. Mobius stores each version of the report and identifies one version from the next using an archive date and timestamp.
Within each Report, and Report version, Mobius provides for further separation using Sections. Sections are arbitrary breaks within a report that make up a group of pages. Sections are identified within the report, usually, by a heading (or section) within the report itself. For example, if you were looking at a document containing a list of phone bills, you would have one section for each phone number. If you were looking at a report that contained a list of electric bills, you would have one section for each customer, as below:
Finally, Mobius introduces the concept of Topic Indexes. Topic Indexes are arbitrary name/value pairs that allow association of Core index data across multiple reports. Imagine these as Index keys that you would use to associate tables in a database. For example, consider a Topic Index for an Employee ID (12345). To enable search for that Employee ID in any report, you would identify the Topic Index within each report at the time of ingestion.
This core functionality represents the primary use case for customers using Mobius. Legacy customers develop thousands of report definitions and setup batch capture of report output files using this primary method of ingestion. Complexity is added for formatting, image overlay, Topic Indexes, and retention/disposition needs, but the fundamentals remain largely the same.
Extracting Mobius Reports
As the reports in the Mobius system are organized into Report, Version, Section, Topics and pages, Platform 3 can extract them at any level. The image below represents the extraction levels and the complexity of extracting them.
The following figure lists several versions of each of the reports displayed in Archon.
Challenges During Extraction
Platform 3 has developed purpose-built tools to address the unique se t of challenges of extracting content from Mobius. They are mostly associated with the enormous repositories that make up most legacy deployments we run into. A handful are listed below.
|Mobius server load issues during mass extraction using MSL script and Document Direct, also the export happens like printing page by page. Also, extracting large volumes of reports can be time-consuming.||Platform 3 directly connects to the Mobius (InfoPac) system and takes report dumps, a faster and more efficient approach.|
|Recalling datasets from Tape to Disk via Document Direct is a time-consuming task and it affects the extraction process, since the application freezes and becomes unstable.||Platform 3 Solutions extraction process takes care of recalling the Mobius datasets from tape to disk during extraction|
|Disk capacity planning during mass data extraction.||Regular migration of report datasets to tape is carried out to maintain a minimum of 200GB in the storage group and the option would be available via Archon to submit jobs to migrate the reports to tape.|
|There are JAVA rest API services for report extraction but the same cannot be used for archiving a huge number of reports.||P3 uses mainframe connectors in Java to connect directly with the Mobius system to retrieve the reports, which would be a more effective and efficient approach.|
|Document Direct and other Mobius viewing apps provide an option to download AFP reports as PDFs, which occupies more storage space and retrieval is time consuming.||Platform 3 uses mainframe connectors in java to connect directly with the Mobius system to retrieve the reports, a more effective and efficient approach.|
|Document Direct and other Mobius viewing apps provide option for downloading AFP reports as PDF which occupies more storage space and retrieval is time consuming.||Platform 3 provides the ability to directly download the AFP reports, a lightweight and faster to download. P3 also provides options to extract the AFP dump, which helps in generating metadata.|
Platform 3 Solutions Mobius Connector
The most common Mobius retirement use case we run into is from a mainframe. The Platform 3 Solutions Mobius connector offers an ingenious approach to extract content from Mobius allowing us to avoid many of the most common pitfalls in an archival project. The P3 connector provides the ability to pre-set credentials into Mobius, VSAM dataset name, Class Name, Message Class name, LE Dataset Name, Space, and Unit, among others. We delivery the appropriate command set to send into Mobius and allow the user to select reports, versions, sections, lists, etc. that can be viewed within P3’s ETL interface for decision making, batch configuration, and processing.
When the P3 ETL user submits the jobs, our Mobius extractor prepares a series of commands to send report, version, and section information from Mobius. It can be configured to capture multiple content types, including text, LPFD like AFP, PDF, and others. P3’s ETL output is available in CSV, XML, Parquet, or SIP formats, which can be ingested into a content archival solution.
If major releases of a product are an indication of innovations, DB2 has been challenged. Below is the End of Support Dates for Linux/UNIX/Windows as the ZOS is a completely different code stream and versioning:
- Allen Systems Group has agreed to acquire Mobius for $10.05 per share in cash
- Software Developer Allen Systems Files for Bankruptcy Protection
- ASG, acquired by Rocket Software, closes Naples headquarters.