Another CICS Celebration (maybe) – Congrats, Hursley!

IBM Hursley

IBM Hursley

I recently read that CICS development was moved to Hursley, UK, on August 2, 1974. If that is true, this marks the 40th anniversary of that occasion.

However … IBM has a technote that states that CICS support was moved to Hursley in 1976. But then, the RedBook “CICS from Start to Finish” says that CICS development was moved to Hursley in 1974.

Can anyone clarify?

Regardless of the exact history, the CICS folks at Hursley, as well as their counterparts in the States, have done an incredible job for many years keeping CICS relevant in this ever-changing industry.

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Happy Birthday CICS! 45 Years and Going Strong!

I read on John Knutson’s CICSbuzz newsletter that today, July 8, 2014, marks the 45th birthday for CICS. Just the other day I was just wearing my 35 years of CICS t-shirt that I must have bought from Bob Yelavich ten years ago. If you are not familiar with the CICS Buzz, I encourage you to check it out and subscribe. In this issue, there is lots of good info about CICS Transaction Gateway 9.1 (with RESTful JSON support for mobile devices) and a new CICS Modernization Solution Pack.

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IBM Impact 2014

I am fortunate once again to be attending IBM Impact. The general session again focused on mobile, and featured speakers from Tangerine Bank, Square, and Daimler Car2Go. Live demos did not go too well due to apparent networking issues, but speakers covered nicely.

Here are some of my biggest take-aways from today’s CICS sessions:

  • The 5.2 Developer Trial can be turned into a full version without re-installing.
  • The mobile feature pack introduced in 5.1 is integrated into the base in 5.2.
  • “Simple” Occurs Depending On is supported in 5.2 web services.
  • 5.2 has something called Multi-Versioning, which allows a new version of a program to be implemented, and taken out, quickly. It is possible to have the new version and old version available simultaneously.
  • Of course, as with every new release of CICS in recent years, more things are moving above the bar for virtual storage relief, and more commands are threadsafe.
  • It was not explicitly stated, but all indications are that the CICSPlex WUI is going away after V5. It is time to really start using the CICS Explorer, if you’re not already using it.

I had a great one-on-one “Lunch and Learn” session on the CICS Explorer. It was originally slated for myself and one other person, but they were a no-show. The session was a good review of many of the things I already knew, and I picked up a couple of new tidbits. The one-on-one and Lunch and Learn sessions alone pretty much make the trip for Impact worthwhile.

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z/OS Explorer and CICS Explorer

CICS Explorer

I have just installed the new z/OS Explorer, and the latest version of CICS Explorer (5.1.1) under it. If you are not running CICS/TS V5, no worries; CICS Explorer V5.1.1 supports CICS/TS V3, V4, and V5. With the z/OS Explorer, now you can view/edit MVS and zFS datasets and review output on the JES spool from the same Eclipse environment where you define/control CICS resources. In this post, I will review the steps to install these (free) products and why.

The installation process is fairly simple, but if you have not started working with the CICS Explorer, you will find using it a big sluggish compared to the  CICSPlex WUI if your workstation is low on horsepower. It does take some resources to run the Eclipse environment, but that’s just the way things are going; mainframe support personnel need beefy client workstations as well as PC developers. Maybe not as beefy, but much more so than the thin clients many use today. After all, the mainframe is a server, too.

Here is an overview of the steps I took in installing the tools:

  1. Download the zip file containing z/OS Explorer and Installation Manager
  2. Expand the zip file and run launchpad.exe
  3. Select z/OS Explorer, Installation Manager, and Eclipse
  4. Load Installation Manager and add URL to Preferences > Repositories.
  5. Choose CICS Explorer SDK

From there, just point to your z/OS FTP servers and CICSPlexes (IP address/port number), and supply authentication info. Be sure to use your CICSPlex CMCI port rather than TCP/IP port, or else the CICS view will be read-only. (I made that mistake.)

The process is much easier than it once was; IBM has done a great job of bundling everything needed. IBM  also has some great information regarding installing the z/OS Explorer and installing the new CICS Explorer. Several scenarios are covered for the installation of CICS Explorer; the process I outlined above was Scenario 1 (“new to Installation Manager and CICS Explorer V5.1.1”).

If you haven’t started using CICS Explorer, now is the time to start. The CICSPlex WUI will be going way, all the CICS tools are being engineered to use this interface, as well as all the development tools, and MQ Explorer. Get z/OS Explorer today and get started!

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Mobile Mainframe – Check It Out!

I just received a very nice email from IBM’er Andy Armstrong, letting me know about his new blog, Mobile Mainframe. I see that he has posted that he had seen that I mentioned him and his IBM Impact session in one of my recent posts.

Andy’s session at IBM Impact 2013 was a great introduction to having a CICS back end to a mobile application, using JSON. With CICS TS 5.1, all the tools are there. Andy even had the courage to do a live demo … We all know from Bill Gates’ infamous blue screen of death demo years back how dangerous that can be! But no glitches for Andy – his sample insurance claim demo went smooth.

Check out Andy’s blog and bookmark it – I have already done so. I am sure you will find interesting reading there.

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Try CICS TS 5.1 – For FREE!

If you are running anything other than CICS TS 5.1, you may wish to consider installing IBM’s Free CICS TS 5.1 Developer Trial. You can install 5.1 in a test environment and check out all of the new features; the only limitations are: limited time (though you can download a new copy and install it again at no cost), some performance and capacity restrictions (to ensure that it is used only in a test environment), and licensing (you agree to only use it to test, and not for production work).

IBM has done us a tremendous favor here – take advantage of it! Whether to just check out the new features, or to “pre-install” it to prepare for upgrading to TS 5.1 (which you can do with this trial and not have the clock ticking on having two releases installed), you can’t beat free!

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IBM Impact 2013 Days Three and Four

Days three and four at IBM Impact 2013 were filled with more details on the overviews presented on day one. Probably the biggest highlights of the week were the individual sessions I had with IBM CICS experts on days three and four. The last time I was at Impact, these opportunities were not available. I highly recommend signing up for at least one of these events if you attend Impact, more if you can – regardless of which technical track is emphasized in your agenda. I was able to discuss the differences between the release our shop is currently running and Version 5.1 with an IBM’er who was very knowledgeable on the subject, and I had the unique opportunity to discuss the upcoming Dynamic Scripting feature pack with the developer that created it. There is more to gain from the “normal” sessions at Impact than can be acquired just from reading manuals, and the individual sessions are even beyond that.

Every IBM CICS person I talked with at Impact were genuinely excited about CICS TS 5.1. I can’t say enough about their passion, and their interest in answering any question any attendee had. Their enthusiasm made the week that was Impact 2013 an enjoyable learning experience.

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