CICS / WebSphere

On July 8, CICS celebrates its 40th anniversary as an IBM product. That makes CICS the grand master of transaction processing. Since 1969, CICS has evolved, adopting new technologies as appropriate, reacting to customer requirements to ensure it remains at the forefront of enterprise processing. There were some name changes along the way, but customers can still expect the Qualities of Service (QoS), performance, security, and integrity that have ensured CICS’ place as the mainstay of most mainframe installations.

What’s CICS Been Up To?

CICS Transaction Server Version 3.2 was released in June 2007. While there were no formal deliveries for CICS TS in 2008, there was considerable development activity around Program Temporary Fixes (PTFs) and SupportPacs, and other complementary products in the IBM portfolio. Threadsafe file control for local VSAM was introduced, which should improve machine cycles and performance.

IBM continually evaluates which elements of Web 2.0 are most applicable for CICS to participate in—with a view to providing the best value for customers. So, in April 2008, CICS made its first foray into the Web 2.0 arena with the Atom Feeds SupportPac (CA8K), which enables CICS data or applications to be viewed as a Web feed using the Atom Publishing Protocol (APP). This provides a less formal mechanism for exposing CICS assets and services. This complements the more formal style of use of Web service and SOAP standards with an easy-to-consume vehicle based on HTTP.

Java is now regarded as a first-class language for business logic in CICS applications alongside COBOL and PL1, whether or not those are invoked by Web services or Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs). Fulfilling the commitment made in the CICS TS V3.2 announcement, customers can now choose to use the Java 5 Java Virtual Machine (JVM) by applying PTF UK35003, UK35008, UK35009 from APAR PK59577, or continue with the previous JVM.

As JVM has matured, it has become simpler for IBM to incorporate new levels of the Java Development Kit (JDK). For EJB interoperability, IBM now supports the Common Secure Interoperability Version 2 (CSI v2) standard, which is available via applying PTF UK34192, UK34193 from APAR PK59219 providing security context propagation between CICS and Web- Sphere Application Server v6.1 or later.

At the end of 2008, the CICS Explorer was introduced to manage the CICS run-time. At the same time, new Eclipse-based interfaces were introduced for the following CICS tasks: Interdependency Analyzer, Performance Analyzer, and Configuration Manager. These tools provide an integration point to CICS through a common Eclipse framework. Also released was the PHP scripting SupportPac, which complements the Atom SupportPac. Both are enablers for exposing valuable CICS services and data managed by CICS transactions to a wider variety of consumers. Both the Atom SupportPac and this new one, known as CA1S, demonstrate the power of a simple approach to Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), sometimes known as RESTful SOA or Web-Oriented Architectures (WOAs). Atom is an example of a so-called RESTful Application Program Interface (API) and that SupportPac provides an easy way for consumers to discover feeds and access data directly from CICS.

With the new PHP support, IBM is expanding the options for molding and reusing CICS assets in an agile Web 2.0 environment. Finally, IBM has provided a programmatic interface for CICS applications to allow the creation and emission of business events in a format consumable by WebSphere Business Events (WBE). It accomplished that with the Events for WBE SupportPac (for more information on this, see the article “Event Processing With CICS Transaction Server and WebSphere Business Events” in this issue).

What’s New in CICS TS V4.1?

CICS customers have identified a growing need for more immediate decision- making, and CICS can provide a great deal of information in its daily processing. They also need a more responsive way to make changes and amendments to business processes with confidence these changes can be made swiftly. This SupportPac provides the first opportunities for customers to realize the potential of their CICS events and turn insight into action. These technologies were the first steps in helping customers become familiar with the new capabilities being introduced in a more integrated way in the next delivery of CICS.

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