Getting started with CICS Deployment Assistant
Are you trying to understand your z/OS topology? Wondering how all those CICS regions link together in a CICSplex that has grown beyond recognition? Or perhaps you’re trying to create a test environment that accurately reflects production?
If you’re trying to do any of these then IBM CICS Deployment Assistant for z/OS V5.2 (CICS DA) can really help you. Hopefully this blog post will start to show you how!
Pretty much everything I’ll be discussing will be done within the CICS Explorer client plug-in. If you’re not at least somewhat familiar with Explorer you may want to read up on that or try a few tutorials first. The IBM Knowledge Center is a great place to start ibm.biz/CICSExplorerKC. Also back in V5.1 days I made a overview video of CICS DA which may help if you’re unfamiliar with the interface http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT3mtBKSQ7Q.
Once you’ve got a connection to a CICS DA server running on z/OS, you can issue whats called a ‘Discovery’. This is an extensive series of operations running under the DA Server’s ID, which builds a model of your topology by trawling your Sysplex in search of MVS images, address spaces running on them and eventually connections in your CICS regions as defined in CICSPlex SM.
You can issue the command in the CICS Explorer client plug-in by simply right-clicking on the server connection within the DA Explorer view and selecting ‘Discover’ as shown in the image below.
This job pulls in a vast amount of data about your z Topology and creates a DA model to represent this information. Once complete, you can bring the model into the client with the ‘Load’ command just below ‘Discover’.
Now that the model has been loaded you can start to explore what DA has found. The information can be viewed in a tree structure within the DA Explorer view - grouping into things like ‘CMASs’ or ‘DB2’. Or for a more visual representation you can right click on the server connection in the same view, and select the aptly named ‘Open Visualisation’. You can then choose how you’d like things grouped, I tend to go with the standard ‘Sysplex view’ option. (You can also add tags to your model elements, and then this can become a great way of organizing your visualization).
This brings up the Visualisation view where you can explore the discovered z Topology. You can zoom in and out (using the mouse wheel or + - ) to reveal more or less information about the individual entities, hovering over an item will give a pop out of the full summary details.
You can optionally use the outline view to navigate quickly or the connections view to see what is connected to each region (as defined in CICSPlex SM).
A big new feature for V5.2 was the introduction of a RESTful API to access the CICS DA Model and the ability integrate with other in-house solutions, mobile interfaces or via REXX scripts. The API is read-only, so you can only issue GET requests, but can do this for practically anything in the model.
Heres a few examples:
All CICSPlex SM Managed CICS Regions:
All TCP/IP Addresses on a particular MVS Image:
The full details on a particular unmanaged CICS Region:
One of the more established and powerful functions in CICS DA is the ability to ‘clone’ CICS regions. Prior to V5.2 this was limited to those managed in a CICSPlex SM environment, but now that restriction has been removed.
It’s a fast and easy way to extend CICS system topology or create realistic copies of production environments for testing, all whilst adhering to existing conventions such as naming of data sets.
To clone a region you must first specify the start policy for the source region, whether it’s JCL for a batch job or a command for a started task. This can be done through the client’s region editor by double clicking on a region from any of the DA Explorer or visualisation views. The region’s job output must also be readable by the client user’s ID on MVS.
Once the region has a start policy you can start the clone region wizard through either a right click menu option or the ‘Clone CICS Region’ button in the region editor as shown above.
This simple wizard guides you through the steps required to clone a region; to specify various attributes and where you want the region to reside.
"This is the end"
So that ends the whistle stop tour of CICS DA. I hope there's been some stuff you’ve found useful and if you haven’t already tried CICS DA for yourself, I hope it’s shown some of the great features and value you can get from the tool and you might be tempted to try it out as part of our beta programs!
Any questions, feel free to comment on the blog. I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of what the tool offers, so if I’ve whetted your appetite, we also have a bunch of great resources for CICS DA if you're wanting to learn more about what we can do for you: