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CICS Serviceability: Past, Present and Future

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series on the evolution of the CICS transaction server’s serviceability process and enhancements. Part 1, titled “CICS Serviceability: An Ever-Evolving Process” was published in April.

Throughout its history, the CICS transaction server (TS) has undergone thousands of serviceability enhancements. Some were large-line items that took many developer hours to implement and helped both the CICS system programmer and customer support representative. Enhancements of this caliber include the introduction of:

  • Execution diagnostic facility (EDF)
  • Resource definition online (RDO)
  • Terminal auto-install
  • Transaction isolation using MVS subspaces
  • Command level interpreter (CECI), and
  • DFH0STAT online

Other serviceability enhancements have benefited support-center representatives and those system programmers who like to debug their own problems. This category includes message-instance identifiers, resolving variables and return/reason in messages. Wherever reasonable, support will ask for actual return code meanings, along with the numerical return code. For instance, instead of just indicating “RC20” when a VSAM file has reached maximum extents, CICS will put out NOSPACE so the client and support representative know exactly what the problem entails.

Formatting out of transaction monitoring area (TMA) data in the monitoring domain is another enhancement that simplifies diagnostics. DFH$MOLS is run on all of the TMAs in a system dump when the CICS VERBX is issued with the MN parameter. For all active tasks, you can now see where all of the time was spent and the types of waits issued without breaking down the TMA control block.

DB2 and MQ CSUB internal trace allows you to see what task used the CSUB and the return codes returned for previous requests to DB2 and MQ. While, setting a TRDUMPCODE or SYDUMPCODE enables a system dump for any CICS transaction abend or message, rather than having to figure out offsets and set serviceability level indication processing (SLIP).

Additionally, the improved VSAM record-level sharing (RLS) interface has simplified tracing and diagnostics. When a timeout is waiting for a record lock, you will receive DFHFC0164 and DFHFC0165 that tell you the exact task, jobname, applid and z/OS image that holds the needed lock. And including the breaking event address (BEAR) in CICS diagnostics tells you the last successful branch that was executed. This is very beneficial for wild branch abend diagnosis.

To assist with formatting, there’s the system initialization table (SIT) parameters in logical groupings. Instead of breaking down the SIT parameters with a data area manual, they’re now formatted out with the CICS VERBX PA parameter. Also, formatting domain-tracing options now feature standard and special trace points for CICS internal trace that are formatted out with the CICS VERBX parameter TR.

The list goes on, including:

  • Improved DB2 adapter tracing and diagnostics
  • Better WebSphere MQ Series diagnostics
  • DFHTRAP status displayed by dump formatter
  • The CICSPlex System Manager (SM) dump broadcast

Bill Bulfin provides Level 2 worldwide remote technical support for CICS and the CICS tools portfolio of products. His 32-year career at IBM Service began in Chicago, where he provided support for DOS/VS. He later relocated to Endicott, N.Y., to support VSE.

Ed Addison has worked in IBM Service for 24 years. He began his Level 2 career in San Jose, Calif., while supporting VSAM and moved to Raleigh, N.C., in 1993 to support CICS. He has been performing Serviceability Reviews on CICS Transaction Server since 1994.



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