Jul 14 ’09

CICS TS 4.1: Building on 40 Years of Superior Transaction Processing Support

by Editor in z/Journal

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.

CICS introduces CICS Transaction Server 4.1 for z/OS almost 40 years to the day after the first version of CICS was released. CICS TS V4.1 delivers both business and technical value, enabling the enterprise to compete for new business, comply with regulations, manage risk in rapidly changing markets, and control costs for both managing existing applications or building new ones.

Introducing RESTful Web services and providing Atom support helps position CICS for participation in modern Web 2.0 architectures and development models. Another new capability being provided in CICS TS V4.1 is Service Component Architecture (SCA), which will enable customers to identify and package their applications (new or existing) in a more flexible way. This will enable reuse as components in many composite applications while simplifying and accelerating the process of assembling and deploying new business applications.

Mashups using Atom feeds or RESTful APIs can be used to integrate corporate operational data from customers’ CICS customer policy systems along with public information from sources such as electoral rolls and crime statistics, as well as mapping, weather, climate, and similar third-party information. When combined, these new representations can provide higher levels of business insight required to identify risk levels, ensure standards, policies, and regulations are adhered to, and make the correct business decisions. Mashups can be created to greatly simplify access to diverse information sources and accelerate the development process of Web 2.0 applications.

IBM also has continued to improve its now mature SOA support in CICS with data mapping and Web services addressing. The improvements to data mappings provide a faster and enhanced conversion between XML and language structures for all Web services, and new APIs to use these services, independent of Web services. CICS monitors standards and specifications set by standards bodies and supports WS-Addressing in line with the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) specification. The WS-Addressing specifications enable normalization of information usually provided by transport or message systems and allow inclusion of message routing data in SOAP headers. This removes the reliance on network-level transport to carry routing information. The framework is transport-neutral and improves interoperability of Web services using different transport mechanisms.

Governance Compliance

Sound, demonstrable governance is imperative and compliance to the measurements put in place is paramount to the management of business risk, which is becoming an increasing requirement for both enterprise lines of business and IT management alike. CICS development, in conjunction with the z/OS team, has worked to take advantage of new features in the operating system to allow ID propagation, which helps improve cross-platform accountability and auditing of access to sensitive business information and applications.

SOA and Web services are maturing and have been a part of CICS for several years; sound SOA governance to control these new services is essential. CICS offers support for WebSphere Service Registry and Repository (WSRR), providing the capability to publish and read Web service documents from WSRR. This helps customers and IT departments control the proliferation of Web services in their organization and avoid duplication. Demonstrations of this can be seen on the CICS Website (under library, demos).

A major enhancement in CICS V4 to corporate governance and control provides support for producing events that are triggered by banking, trading, or sales transactions, health insurance claims, or any other business-relevant data from CICS applications to dashboard tools. When combined with instrumentation provided in a dashboard tool, executives and managers can gain the insight they need to manage and govern their business, react to changing patterns, and respond to new opportunities. Routing those same events to a business event processing system such as WBE enables fast identification and response to out-of-line situations, such as unusual behavior patterns in bank accounts, share dealing, sales transactions, and other corporate or regulatory compliance issues.

CICS introduced the CB11 SupportPac in December 2008, enabling V3 customers to identify business events in their processes and make them available for consumption by WBE. In V4, this new CICS event technology will enable CICS to be configured to feed event processing engines and business dashboards, without the need for application change. This will better enable the line of business to ensure business processes are under control and monitor and react to compliance requirements, security breaches, and incidents of fraud.

Business event detection and emission within CICS require no changes to or retesting of existing applications, enabling the creation of production business views using dashboards in a matter of hours. When combined with the power of pattern recognition or rule compliance, end-to-end processes can be constructed to ensure follow-up for abnormal situations, alerts can be sent to prohibit potential fraud, and simple metrics can be set up to provide valuable business information that can then be used to react to and take advantage of new opportunities.

Greater Control

CICS V4.1 provides a higher level of control in several areas. Certain new features will help control costs by simplifying IT infrastructure and improving development and operations productivity; these include:

• Easier-to-use interfaces and functions

• New monitoring for new functionality

• Enhanced dynamic workload balancing for high-volume traffic

• Improved broader IP support on the IBM inter-connectivity roadmap

• Support for Java 6.

There also have been improvements in performance that manifest themselves in traditional workloads, dynamic workload management, TCP/IP connectivity, and XML parsing. Specifically:

• In the system management area, the non-invasive emission of CICS events greatly reduces the effort required to event-enable an application.

• Integrated system management provides better operational control.

• The CICS Explorer, the new face of CICS available as a SupportPac for CICS TS V3, will give V4 users a more powerful tooling environment to help experienced, skilled IT staff be more productive and provide a more intuitive experience for less knowledgeable team members.

Conclusion

The new version of CICS provides a platform for business growth and evolution. With new support for Business Events, Web 2.0, and the CICS Explorer, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V4.1 will enable IT departments and line of business leaders to do more with less and do it right—capturing emerging opportunities as markets recover while maintaining business control and demonstrating compliance to relevant regulatory obligations.