IMS: PS2 Processing

PS2 stands for “Payments and Services Version 2.” It is the name given to the collection of databases, programs, transactions, modules, and functions that are directly related to the Adult and Family Services (AFS) Division benefits and services. All AFS case information is stored in PS2 databases on an IBM mainframe. All AFS benefits are generated through PS2 programs, transactions, modules, and functions.

The PS2 system is called a “legacy” system because it is the one we have used for many years. Some of the programming in the PS2 system goes back to the mid 1980s. The language used is COBOL (common business-oriented language) originally developed in the late 1950s. It has become increasingly difficult to find programmers who know COBOL because the language is no longer taught and is unwieldy. That is why changes to the system can take longer to make than would be the case if the programming for our system were in a newer language.

The backbone of the PS2 system is a series of IMS databases. These databases are called “hierarchical databases”. In a hierarchical data model, data are organized into a tree-like structure. The structure allows repeating information using parent/child relationships: each parent can have many children but each child only has one parent.

For additional information on IMS refer to article IMS: IMS Overview.

Most new systems rely on “relational databases”. In a relational database, all data is represented as mathematical N-ary relationships where each piece of data can have various relationships with other pieces of data. There is no predefined, hierarchical order to the data or its representation. Relational databases are very flexible and powerful, but that flexibility and power comes at a price – raw performance. Other database models, such as the hierarchical and network models, can be traversed much faster; however, with the speed of modern hardware this disadvantage is negligible compared to the benefits of the relational model. The primary relational databases used by OKDHS are DB2 and SQL.

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