CICS / WebSphere

In October 2012, IBM announced for the first time a CICS family of products—not just the run-time CICS or CICS Transaction Server (CICS TS) but seven associated products released simultaneously as Version 5.1. This major release in December 2012 occurred just 18 months after CICS TS V4.2 became available. That 18-month delivery cycle (25 percent faster than normal) was itself a major change.

Version 5.1 will help CICS maintain its long-time status as the transaction processor of choice for handling huge workloads. (Some customers use it to manage more than a billion transactions a day.) Customers report that CICS helps them remain competitive; they’ve come to expect it to provide appropriate and innovative technologies in the areas where it’s most essential. The CICS V5.1 family focuses on solving three main challenges:

• Ongoing operational pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency
• Increased business pressure to deliver faster and with greater agility
• The need to manage and exploit a rapidly changing technology landscape.

Addressing these challenges has led to a focus on applications, platforms and enhancements to the foundation of CICS. Specifically targeted were operational efficiency to control costs, service agility to deliver results faster and cloud computing support for long-term investment protection. The development effort resulted in five core tools that help achieve these goals and assist in the upgrade to the new version. 

This is the first of three articles that examine enhancements made to CICS and CICS tools. We will examine platforms, applications and changes to the foundation of CICS. We will also explain what we mean by platform and how CICS V5.1, together with the CICS Deployment Assistant tool, leverages the cloud and other technologies to simplify and optimize CICS environments.

First-Class Platform

In the beginning, life with CICS was simple. You had a single region running applications. Later, customers ran into virtual storage constraints and had to create new regions for more applications. Then the applications required higher availability, so CICS Terminal Owning Regions (TORs) provided dynamic routing and CICS File Owning Regions (FORs) supported file sharing. Regions continued to proliferate; CICS Queue Owning Regions (QORs) emerged, and so on. IBM added yet more regions for system test, quality assurance, product development and more. Then came cloud computing.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cloud computing as a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that you can provision rapidly and release with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of three service models and four deployment models: 

• Service models: Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
• Deployment models: private cloud, community cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud.

You could consider cloud service models as System z running a CICS platform, which would contain such items as a database, security, communications, etc. The versatility and integrity of System z and CICS let you use many applications with different languages such as COBOL, Java ServerPages (JSP), Groovy, PHP, PL/I Assembler and C++. 

Clouds tend to exhibit certain attributes such as on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and a measured service. To varying degrees, CICS has also provided these attributes:

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