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CICS and/or WebSphere: That is the Question

IBM has been agressively marketing the WebSphere family of products for several years, a product family that includes transaction processing capabilities that have created some confusion among users of IBM's Customer Information Control System (CICS) and other transaction management systems. So, the question is: "is it recommended to replace CICS with the WebSphere Application Server (WSAS)?" In my opinion, it shouldnt be a case of CICS "or" WebSphere but rather a recommendation for CICS "and" WebSphere, since WebSphere isnt necessarily a replacement for CICS transaction processing, nor should CICS be expected to stand alone without WebSphere.

This article presents an overview of both CICS and WebShere transaction processing capabilities, as well as an overview of the architecture of both products. Support and use of the Internet and the World Wide Web (www) are also examined.

To quote the IBM Web site for WebSphere regarding CICS and WebSphere ( "Both environments offer a comprehensive set of software tools supporting the full application development lifecycle for traditional mainframe, Java and composite applications with sophisticated connector technology allowing for rapid implementation of innovative on demand applications speeding delivery of new business value."

To quote a recent non-IBM publication "A History of  the Software Industry" written by Martin Campbell-Kelly (ISBN 0-262-03303-8): "...if CICS were to vanish, corporate America would grind to a  halt". This is no empty statement, since I believe CICS is widely used among an estimated 85% of all mainframes installed worldwide.

To quote still further, from the Computerworld Sept. 30, 2002 article "35 Technologies that shaped the industry:" "IBM's Customer Information Control System was developed in 1968 and is still the most important mainframe transaction processing software in the world."

The WebSphere product family is Web-centric and largely centered around the use of Java and Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) for application logic, and DB2 for data management.

Bob Yelavich is an independent consultant. Bob can be reached at

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