Historically, we here in Hursley have delivered new releases of CICS TS to the marketplace approximately every two years or so. Given that our last major release – CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V4.1 – was made generally available in 2Q 2009, it might be safe to assume that based on historical delivery cycles, 2011 could be exciting year for CICS TS announcements…
So as a CICS TS customer, what does this mean for you? Well, in addition to potentially getting your hand on some new capability in 2011, another thing it could mean for you is that now might be a really good time to start talking to us (and perhaps reminding us) about all those features, functions and enhancements that you want us to put in a future version of CICS TS!
We do of course already have a well defined requirements management process, alongside many other methods of gathering and analysing customer requirements. However, this time round we wanted to do something more – and that is what this post is all about.
We have built a survey containing six questions that we hope will uncover some requirements that we in the lab might not have come across before. The overall theme of the survey is about how CICS TS can do more to make our customers lives easier – something that hopefully we all want – and so the requirements can be big or small, so long as they are something you or your colleagues would benefit from.
These are the three main questions we would like you to think about:
- If IBM were designing the next CICS TS specifically for your organisation, what content (features and functions) would you like it to contain?
- Are there any custom written CICS capabilities/utilities (Exits, URM’s, Scripts, etc.) that you would rather IBM implemented natively in CICS TS?
- Are there any other no-charge custom CICS capabilities/utilities (IBM SupportPacs, etc.) that augment your CICS TS environment with?
Here is a link to the full on-line survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/CICSReqs2011
The survey also contains three additional open questions: what do you like about CICS TS; what do you dislike about CICS TS; and space for you to tell us anything else you would like us to know. All responses will be included in our planning process and each and every one of them will be looked at and considered.
Ian and I are appealing to all of our CICS TS customers to spend a little bit of time considering and submitting their responses. Perhaps you could even involving other departments with an interest in CICS TS (those AD guys that you SP folks do not always talk to perhaps?).
You never know, in the not too distant future, you might be very glad you did!
Andrew Bates, Product Manager, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS
Ian Mitchell, Chief Architect, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS
Just a very short post here, to highlight a short new video with Roger Middlemiss from Royal Bank of Canada discussing his experience of using CICS Transaction Gateway and IBM’s Betaworks programme. In particular, interesting to hear how RBC are looking to move all CICS TG installations to z in the near future for high availability and consolidation reasons.
During Impact 2008, it was mentioned that perhaps CICS had forgotten its roots as it pushed towards SOA enlightenment. It was easy to see where this came from since Impact is a very SOA-focussed conference and we just released a whole ton of web-services functionality on our customers.
Personally, I see SOA as another opportunity for customers to take advantage of their existing assets. Rather than a move away from what we do, I see it as an embracement of current technology and using that to grab more value from the time and effort that customers have already invested into CICS. One thing that CICS director (Dave Andrews) mentioned numerous times during the CICS Q&A was that we were looking at non-disruptive technologies as a way to do just this. Hence all the focus around SOA, Atom feeds, CICS WEB interfaces and such like. There is a reason we are seeing some of our fastest adoption rates for the new release.
As I said previously, I may just be biased and I’ve only been at this a little under 3 years but that would be my take on it. I wouldn’t assume that because we are doing SOA, that we aren’t working our butts off improving, innovating and building on the traditional aspects of CICS TS 3.2 as well.
Impact 2008 is coming to a close tomorrow and I have to say I met some really nice people out here in Vegas and several on twitter. I ran two presentations on CICSPlex SM workload management (a basics and an advanced session) and both sessions were followed by some good questions I thought I would share the answers to. I’ve also added in some questions from the Tech Zone. Thanks to everyone who attended the presentations!
I have two equal LPARs but CICSPlex SM workload balancing only routes to one of them?
This is a really common question that we get asked a lot. The answer is that CICSPlex SM workload balancing does not actually round-robin the workload across all available target regions. What it does do is try to route to the best available region at all times. This is commonly the region we routed to last time. Once that region starts to become heavily loaded CICSPlex SM will begin to route work away into a different region.
Another potential factor here is the utilization of routing regions. CICSPlex SM will always try to route locally if possible, as remote routing goes through slower links. So if you are constantly using the routing regions on LPAR1 you will find that the target regions on LPAR1 are the most frequently used.
Can I associate a routing region with more than one workload?
No. This also means that if you are considering switching to distributed routing from dynamic routing you should be careful that your target regions also do not appear in more than one workload. When you switch to distributed routing, your target regions need to be able to route as well (i.e. a requesting region). So these new requesting regions can also only be associated with one workload at a time.
Does CICSPlex SM work out the affinities for me?
No. This is a bit of a manual task I’m afraid, although the excellent CICS Interdependency Analyzer is certainly able to help you detect them. The aim over a period of time should be to make sure no new applications are created with affinities without good reason. Work should also be done on the current affinities to see if their lifetime could be reduced or if the affinity could be removed all together.
Is it possible to move a Maintenance Point (MP) CMAS from LPAR1 to LPAR2 if for instance LPAR1 goes down?
Yes, this is possible. Simply bring the MP CMAS up in LPAR2 without any changes. Note that although it is possible to rename your maintenance point, this is a lot more tricky.
That’s your lot for the moment. If you have other questions you would like to know the answer to then feel free to add them to the new “Ask a question” section available from the top navigation.
On Monday this week, the Impact 2008 CICS Q&A session with CICS director Dave Andrews kicked off. What follows is a brief summary of what happened in-case you missed it.
The session started by looking at how you could make the most out of the Impact event. We have 60 sessions dedicated to CICS this year. With CICS Tech Zones where you can meet the experts and discuss any problems or just come for a chat. CICS is also represented at the Solutions Center with Nick Garrod and John Knutson. Also at the Solutions Center is the new z10 mainframe out in all of its glory along with plenty of vendor stalls.
The demo suite also received a mention with demos available for CICS tools and PD tools. Well worth a visit to get some hands-on time with some of the latest tooling. A sign-up is required so speak to John Knutson who will sort it all out for you.
There is also a CICS Spotlight session on Wednesday (today) at 6pm in the Marquee Suite, with free drinks and snacks.
We were also pointed at the CICS e-Newsletter as an excellent way of keeping up with the latest updates in the CICS world. It has monthly updates of offerings, new members of staff and marketing updates.
The main message was to make the most out of it. Discuss your requirements with IBM… talk to us! Engage with our experts, try out our products and tools and sign up for the beta program. By joining the beta program not only do you get early insight into the product and gain that essential competitive advantage, you can also help to shape the final product by providing essential customer feedback.
The next big section was product updates. Dave started with a disclaimer that all of this was not set in stone. The main points were that IBM is driving for smart SOA architecture. You should not be frightented of the new technologies, embrace them! A lot of the value of CICS is not about creating brand new applications (although that is definitely happening) but creating new solutions using the new functionality to provide added value to those existing applications. CICS is translating it’s core values into value for you.
We then looked at the CICS time-line focusing in on what is now available for CICS TS 3.2. We saw that CICS TS 3.2 had an enriched base, provides a web based interface into CICS and huge improvements to Java and SOA. Where are you going to put your critical applications, well CICS provides availability and robustness already. We have a steady migration to CICS TS Version 3 and the fastest migration to any CICS release yet! Come and talk to us and let us explain why this is happening.
Dave then talked about the major CICS TS 3.2 themes of Application Connectivity, Application Reuse and Service management.
The extensive beta program was again mentioned. Dave said that we get great feedback from it and it’s a great opportunity to let customers get the skills early and take a competitive advantage. It’s also a good opportunity to get an early look at any of the updated books that are available. The open beta that ran in March 2006 had over 100 participants! The adoption rate for 3.2 is incredibly high and the beta program is helping drive real quality with great reference customers.
We then went on to look at the CICS customer references and what they were getting out of CICS.
- Improved performance for Java
- Impressed with Web interfaces to CICSPlex SM
- Improved Java application support
- Shared Java classes between WAS and CICS
University of Florida
- Web services enablement of student course systems
- CICS was lowest cost of ownership
Moving on we looked at some of the other CICS news. Upgrades for Service Flow Feature and Rational Developer for Z. We looked at what news was coming up. New Java 5 support, Web Services data binding for XML and AnyType, improved interoperability with CICS and WAS v6.1 supporting the CSI v2 Client Auth mechanism, Web Services MTOM support over MO transport and the withdrawal of support for CICS TS v2.3 effective September 30th 2009.
One of the interesting revelations that came next was a look at the most downloaded redbooks. The list below shows a fairly interesting trend shift towards CICS Web Services and Java.
- Implementing CICS Web services
- Application develiopment for CICS Web services
- Architechting access to CICS within an SOA
- Java Application dev for CICS
- Threadsafe considerations for CICS
Dave then went on to talk about some of the CICS complementary tools. There was some brief amusement as someone asked if complementary tooling means that they are free. Dave was quick to point out that complimentary means that it complements the product and is not in fact free.
The first tool on the list was RDz v7.1. It was suggested that this was definitely worth a look… its going to get better and better! I’ve personally played with it recently and it looks very nice! Dave concluded by saying that it was going to be very important for the future of CICS application development.
Dave gave a brief overview of the CICS Tools and PDTools explaining how customers can use these to help manage their CICS environment. He used CICS IA as an example of a Tool that can assist with making applications Threadsafe and hence getting increased response time and lower CPU usage. The other tools have similar roles in helping with Application Lifecycle, Performance, Data Management and Operational Management.
We then moved on to TX Series v6.2 and mentioned updates were the removal of DCE, for improved simplicity of install and setup, a re-engineered core and a new system management console. Dave also talked about when you might want to use TX Series. Great for a departmental server in shops who understand the value of CICS.
Finally we moved on to CICS Transaction Gateway v7.1 and mentioned it’s improved debugging support. A lot more was mentioned but I’m afraid I was distracted at this point. I’ll try and find out what was discussed later.
Now for the fun stuff. CICS Future Directions. So the BIG message is that the future runs on System Z! There are also no new CICS annoucements at this time, due to the big refresh on tooling last year. The interval for CICS releases continues to be 18-24 months. You can keep up with the latest action through the beta programs and the e-Newsletters.
We looked at the CICS strategy and goals. Dave highlighted Share as one of the great places to gather customer feedback.
- The aim is to position CICS and the mainframe as preferred platform for Enterprise Level Transaction Processing. If there are holes in what we have then please tell us!
- Support non-disruptive adoption of new technologies to support innovation and agile business needs.
- Minimise specialist skills required to install, operate and develop new and exiting applications.
- Respond to key customer and market requirements.
We then moved on to talk about Enterprise level TP. Keeping the traditional focus on performance, scalability, availability, security and management. Promoting the strengths of COBOL and championing it for it’s strengths. A question was asked about whether universities are going to do anything about this? The answer was that we are working closely with the universities at the moment to promote this type of thing.
So moving on to look at the adoption of new technologies. One of these is event processing for CICS. This has huge potential for CICS and can also be provided non-disruptively. Next on the list was PHP and we are currently playing with using it for things like as a scripting language for SFF. Also big on the list was Web 2.0. If you read this blog regularly you would have seen mention of the CICS Atom SupportPac. Again this can help us provide you with more non-disruptive extra functionality for your existing applications.
We then looked at things that were being done to deal with some of the skilling problems around today. Some of the solutions CICS is pursuing are minimising specialist skills, working heavily with universities, and interestingly working on a degree level module with one of the universities on enterprise transaction management. Also getting students up to speed with the enterprise by running mainframe competitions and bringing the winners into the labs. A suggestion that customers should get in touch with the local universities and ask for the skills they need.
Dave finished the session by introducing a move towards Rich Client Platforms based on successful CICS IA user interface. If you are at Impact 2008 you should be able to get a demo of this. There is a strategy to move away from green screens, heading for the Rich Client Platform.