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CICS Continues to Innovate With Transaction Server V5.4


CICS has been a leading application server for many years. It boasts a unique position as a mixed language application server available on a variety of platforms, but it's greatest success is on the mainframe. If the announcement of the release of CICS Transaction Server (TS) V5.4, now generally available, were a song, it would be “Simply the Best.”

Since the release of CICS TS V5.3, the CICS development team have been delivering regular, substantial updates as part of a continuous delivery strategy—quarterly releases from a product that just a few years ago was on a 24-month development cycle. These quarterly releases, plus new function introduced in the open beta, have now been fully integrated into CICS TS V5.4, and the next few paragraphs outline some of the key value points of the release.

Getting Better All the Time

CICS has been supporting Java since the start of the millennium, but significant performance, usability and capability improvements have now made CICS and Java a natural choice for enterprise computing. Regardless of the programming language, CICS applications share programmatic ideas and resources like security, integrity, transactionality, scalability, and easy management and monitoring (see Figure 1).

Java isn’t the only area of improvement for CICS: past releases have had themes of application modernization, system management and more, and these themes haven’t disappeared but CICS value has been focused on responding to customer requests (though the Request for Enhancement [RFE] process). CICS TS V5 has actioned more than 400 of these RFEs already,

Help With Java

CICS now supports applications written to the Java EE 7 full platform specification, through embedded WebSphere Liberty in CICS. This makes it easy to modernize existing CICS applications, or create new applications using technologies and interfaces like JAX-RS to communicate with services in CICS. Many people are familiar with the CICS API for linking programs written in different languages, and you can use the API to link Java programs to COBOL programs, for example, and pass vast volumes of structured data between the two. With this emergence there obviously needs some robust management and development help to make this an attractive place to deploy applications. This too is delivered in CICS TS V5.4 with the CICS remote development feature for Java enabling a developer to remotely connect CICS to an Eclipse development environment.

The Asynchronous API

CICS has the tagline “an unparalleled mixed-language application server,” and that irony is surely not lost on the CICS development team responsible for the new CICS asynchronous API. Running lots of things at the same time is not a new concept, even for CICS, but the new asynchronous API makes it easier than ever to minimize application idle time by running workloads concurrently (see Figure 2).

Using a parent-child programming model, application developers can create applications that handle workload more efficiently. When making calls to multiple services—which can then be processed concurrently without holding up other business logic—the asynchronous API can greatly reduce response times, since time in no longer wasted waiting for responses; they can simply be fetched whenever they're required for further processing.

Learn about some of the design choices made while developing the API, as well as demonstrates how to take advantage of it and its benefits, in “IBM CICS Asynchronous API Allows for More Natural Program Creation.”

Amy Reeve works as a content developer within the CICS development team, writing for the CICS Knowledge Center, the CICS Developer Center and other relevant publications. She also proofreads and edits copy for the wider development team, manages documentation builds and runs a Developers in Doc initiative to encourage testers and developers to engage with the content development process. She can be reached at amyreeve@uk.ibm.com.

Nick Garrod currently works in CICS Transaction Server worldwide market enablement. He has worked in various business roles in CICS and MQ, based at IBM Hursley. He can be reached at Nick_garrod@uk.ibm.com.



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