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Journey from Idea to Practice: OLTP and Java

April 22, 2019

Last week, I wrote about computing architectures as well as the emergence of Linux. These are two important implementations of IT that continue to move forward and evolve. Computer architectures and the elements that are part of its growth and change are both interesting and very detailed by nature. This week, I’ll focus on online transaction processing (OLTP) and the Java programming language. 
OLTP Came Just in Time and Keeps Changing  
In school, they taught us COBOL using the batch-processing model, but as soon as we got our first real job, many of us were writing code to run in an online, real time environment. It was a challenge to shift from batch to online and there was a lot to learn. However, testing was fun because you interacted with new devices and abstractions like queues and communication areas. 
If you ever wondered why we have an OLTP like CICS, here is my elevator pitch:
  1. Programmer productivity: CICS has addressed many productivity challenges in advance, so the programmer just uses those ready-made solutions like how to share data between transactions and how to have I/O with a wide variety of devices in a generalized manner
  2. Fit for the response and performance needs: CICS provides a highly integrated software environment where both high transaction rates and rapid response times can be realized  
  3. High availability and reliability: CICS is designed to provide high system availability and application reliability that’s a fit for any size organization from financial institution to retail organization, government administration to higher education
I have a history with application development, so programmer productivity was my most important item. By itself, programmer productivity isn’t enough. When you write an application, it has to perform in a way that’s acceptable to the community that uses it. CICS has a set of programming constraints and conventions that work well in keeping programmers out of trouble. Pseudo-conversational programming style is an example—follow these guidelines and you will have few, if any, problems with the basic design and performance of your application. 
It’s interesting to consider that CICS has its 50th anniversary this year. Steve Wallin, IBM director for CICS development, said, “Over the last 50 years, CICS has demonstrated the ability to evolve and integrate the latest application languages and frameworks, while continuing to support, enhance and extend client investment in existing applications. When we think that around the world, each and every second, CICS is serving over 1.2 million requests–compared to the 70,000 Google searches or 8,000 Twitter posts that occur during the same timeframe–CICS is critical to our digital economy. I’m looking forward to the next 50 years of innovation and support for our clients’ business-critical applications.”
CICS, an example of an extraordinary OLTP, is still growing and changing by keeping up with the latest trends in application development and enhancements to the primary platforms that support it.
Java has Great Appeal 
IT departments operate in the day-to-day world of IT while planning and preparing for the future. This is the toil of living with technology while it’s in constant change. For many mainframe clients, Java now has an important role as a result of planning that has been going on for some time. 
IT leaders and practitioners have recognized the ability of Java to connect with a new generation of developers while making use of Java’s greater ability to integrate with newer architectures and standards. Mainframe planners and architects also recognized that Java on the mainframe was designed to work well with COBOL, C/C++, high-level assembler and PL/1 in environments that made extensive use of CICS, IMS and WebSphere Application Server.  
Java on the mainframe, on z/OS, isn’t new, but it’s growing, mostly in the area of new applications or new business functions written in Java to enhance and interface core systems typically written in COBOL. A recent survey of 95 IBM Z clients indicated that more than 4 out of 5 had Java in production. And 80% said their initiatives were successful or very successful.
Recently, I identified eight reasons to use Java. These reasons were written with z/OS environment in mind. Here is a summary of the main points:
  1. Java integrates well with modern IT architectures and standards
  2. Java works well with other languages  
  3. Java integrates with powerful middleware
  4. There is also specific support for Java in batch
  5. Java fits well with a strategy of smaller application changes
  6. Java skills are easier to find than COBOL 
  7. 31- and 64-bit software development kits are supported in a number of versions at no charge
  8. Java has powerful developer kits and support tools for creating and testing Java programs
Java is continuing to grow in importance, and people with these skills are in demand as there is significant global competition for Java skills (29,000 Java versus 1,300 COBOL jobs on a popular job-finding site).

What’s Next?
Next week, I’ll focus on internetworking and protocols like HTTP. Also, I’ll explore
APIs and representational state transfer, Simple Object Access Protocol and XML. 

Posted April 22, 2019| Permalink

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