Yes, you read that correctly. Just nine months after the general availability of CICS TS for z/OS V5.2, our industrious team of CICS TS software engineers have - for your application serving pleasure - made available an open beta of CICS TS V5.3. You can download it now from ibm.com/cics/openbeta. And as if that wasn’t enough for any die-hard CICS fan, we’ve even added a few of the new capabilities to existing CICS TS releases as well. Sound interesting? Better read on then…
The three major themes of the open beta; ‘Service Agility’, ‘Operational Efficiency’ and ‘Cloud with DevOps’, should not be a surprise to those who have kept up with CICS TS V5. We’ve continued with these three themes because we believe they continue to address the ongoing business challenges many companies continue to face. Stripping away the marketing, those themes are really synonymous with “do more, with less, and do it faster/better”. We like to think CICS TS can help with these challenges. Here’s how.
Do More. Even the world’s most popular mixed language application server is only as good as the applications it serves. Today, a strong candidate for the most popular language in which to write new business applications is Java. This is where the WebSphere Liberty Profile comes in. It is a production JEE runtime that is included with CICS TS V5, so that customers can run new Java applications (such as Servlets) and Java infrastructure (such as JAX-RS and JAX-WS), right next to existing CICS applications that are written in traditional languages like COBOL. Communication is done at the API level, removing the network latency and reducing the complexity of wiring together multiple runtimes. This open beta adds around 10 new Liberty features (many of which have also been delivered via the service channel on CICS TS V5.2) along with a host of improvements to cross language interoperability. So, do you still think CICS is just for COBOL?
With Less. In the CICS TS world, ‘with less’ is often followed by ‘GP CPU’. Whilst it can be a challenge to reduce the CPU path-length for a product that has been tuned for optimal performance over many decades, it can also (at least for some of our engineers) be a lot of fun! And what do you know, by leveraging some of the newer hardware instructions, optimizing cache alignment, re-examining some algorithms and numerous other mind-bogglingly clever tweaks, CICS trace and monitoring should see noticeable improvements across the board. Additionally, with more than 1/3rd of customers using CICS web services and more still using HTTP for other purposes, a reengineering of the HTTP pipeline processing to remove the intermediate web attach task (CWXN transaction) will reduce both CPU and memory overheads. More security options and better transaction tracking can reduce the need for custom code, nicely rounding out the operational efficiency enhancements in this open beta.
Faster/Better. CICS Cloud is the future of CICS application deployments, giving customers a way to deploy and manage multiple disparate CICS resources as a cohesive, declarative whole. It is a better way. If you haven’t yet examined what’s on offer here, a google search is definitely in order. The open beta expands our CICS Cloud support by adding Transactions as entry points, and providing four new types of threshold policy by which to dynamically manage resource thresholds. But CICS TS V5.3 open beta also introduces strong DevOps capabilities to enable you to do things faster. The new CICS build toolkit automates the building of CICS projects created using the CICS Explorer so that CICS cloud applications, as well as OSGi Java components, can be automatically built from source code. Once built, that CICS project can now be programmatically deployed across CICS systems by using a new set of DFHDPLOY scripting commands. And finally, a new CICS TS plug-in for UrbanCode Deploy supports the automated deployment of CICS applications as part of larger cross-platform and cross-system deployments. You can’t get much faster than automated!
You may also be interested to know that you won’t have to install the CICS TS V5.3 open beta to get started with some of these automation capabilities. The CICS build toolkit open beta will run on z/OS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows operating systems, and will work with CICS TS V4.1 and later. The UrbanCode Deploy plug-in for CICS came out of beta on 20th April 2015, and is now fully supported for use with CICS TS V4.1 and above. You can grab it from developer.ibm.com/urbancode/plugin/cics-ts/
Not a bad list of new capabilities there. And I didn’t even get around to talking about z/OS Connect, which is now available to run inside a Liberty server under CICS TS V5.2. Or the fact that CICS OSGi JVM server can now use the WebSphere MQ classes for the Java Message Service (JMS), as an alternative to the proprietary WebSphere MQ classes for Java – also now available on CICS TS V5.2.
So, if any of that has whetted your appetite, check back here
for further blog posts in the coming weeks with more details. Or you can, of course, check out the open beta at ibm.com/cics/openbeta
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.
IBM CICS TS Product Manager