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CICS Feature Packs Help Address Modern Mobile, Security and Batch Needs


The year 2013 has been a big year for CICS. At the end of 2012, a family of CICS V5.1 products was introduced. Because of its long lifetime and some version renaming, this was actually the ninth version of CICS to be released in its 44 year history. In that time, it’s seen continuous innovation and regular updates, and major releases have become increasingly frequent. Version 5.1 was only 18 months after the previous major release. So it’s even more impressive that more significant function has been released in the shape of feature packs and alternative offerings so soon after a major version release. These technology drops aren’t “finishing off the previous release,” but self-contained capability packages that deliver value to customers to augment the main CICS run-time. In contrast with SupportPacs (small unsupported code drops) that CICS has delivered previously, these feature packs are fully supported, no-charge features to use with the CICS environment to help you embrace new technologies and optimize existing workloads.

Four major feature packs were released in 2013: CICS Feature Pack for Mobile Extensions, CICS Feature Pack for Modern Batch, CICS Feature Pack for Dynamic Scripting V2.0, and most recently, CICS Feature Pack for Security Token Extensions. These deliveries extend and improve the performance and value of customer CICS environments in line with meeting demand and market expectations of their customers.

Mobile Extensions

This pack addresses the pressing need for developers to create mobile solutions for new and existing business processes and applications, without re-architecting the existing infrastructure or compromising the CICS qualities of service. CICS offers a cornucopia of information that can be unlocked and made available to the mobile world; the trick is to do this efficiently. A multitude of mobile devices and platforms are battling for supremacy in today’s marketplace, so CICS needed to provide a solution to suit the industry’s preferred mobile data exchange mechanism. JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is fast becoming that solution, with lightweight processing that reduces cost. This feature pack introduces native JSON support in CICS, enabling the mainframe and the mobile worlds to communicate in a common language. IBM Worklight Server can provide an HTTP adapter to send and receive JSON data between CICS and mobile devices, providing a bridge between these hitherto unconnected worlds. Additionally, the low cost processing of JSON makes it an attractive proposition for other products, languages and Web browsers.

CICS Transaction Server (TS) provides a scalable hosting environment eminently able to handle demanding mobile device-driven workloads. More information about the IBM CICS Transaction Server Feature Pack for Mobile Extensions V1.0 is available at ibm.com/cics.

Modern Batch

This pack addresses the need to improve the efficiency of the batch process. Some CICS environments have long-standing requirements to run regular batch processing operations (daily, weekly or monthly), typically for reporting and reconciliation of transactions. This is often referred to as a “batch window,” and during this window of time, certain resources are removed from CICS. Depending on the workload, a batch window could be minutes or hours. In this world of constant availability, anywhere in the world, at any time of day and night, there’s pressure to minimize this window’s duration. The CICS Feature Pack for Modern Batch enables you to run batch applications inside the CICS Java Virtual Machine (JVM) server in parallel with existing CICS applications, combining batch and online workloads, for increased availability.

CICS provides an infrastructure than runs inside the CICS JVM server so that Java batch applications can run. This reduces the need to have CICS resources offline while the job completes, helps to meet service level agreements, and reduces costs through offload to specialty processors. IBM WebSphere Application Server V8.5 delivers a multi-platform Java-based solution that allowed scheduling of batch jobs in CICS and WebSphere Application Server environments. When used in combination, this feature pack can help CICS TS for z/OS V4 and V5 customers run Java batch applications in a CICS JVM server. More information about the IBM CICS Transaction Server Feature Pack for Modern Batch V1.0 is available at ibm.com/cics.

Heather Seaton is an information developer in the IBM Hursley laboratory. She is an experienced technical author, specializing in software user information. Since joining IBM, she has worked on user information for WebSphere Application Server, CICS Transaction Server and CICS Explorer.

Nick Garrod has held a number of positions in IBM, including finance, business planning and CICS marketing. In July next year, he and CICS will share a combined birthday of 110 years.



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