Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What’s going on with CICS?

What do I mean, what’s going on with CICS? Well, CICS used to be the dynamic heart of so many companies – it was the subsystem that allowed the company to make money – and as such there lots of third parties selling add-ons to CICS to make it work better for individual organizations. Now CICS is even better – it can act as a provider of Web services and it can act as a consumer of Web services. It’s now arguably the most useful subsystem a company has. It allows one company to interface directly with another. People sitting at browsers can get information about products, they can even update their own information held by the company running CICS. And yet, there seem to be fewer and fewer companies offering far fewer CICS add-ons – what’s going on? One important point to make straight away is that when CICS Update issue 1 came out in December 1985, most users were probably using CICS Version 1.6, and the more current versions of CICS out there are far more sophisticated than that earlier version (which we thought was quite special at the time!). It probably means that there are fewer “gaps” in CICS for other companies to fill with their products. It also a sign of how few mainframe software companies there are in comparison to 1985. Some have just gone out of business, but many were swallowed up by larger companies such as CA. Many recent software announcements in the CICS arena are to do with Web Services and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). For example, the August issue of CICS Update contains news that AttachmateWRQ (www.attachmate.com) has announced Verastream Bridge Integrator, its CICS-focused integration product that enables users to transform business-critical CICS functionality into reusable services. Basically, the product allows users to non-invasively extend existing CICS services for use in new SOA application development or integration projects. Similarly, SOA Software (www.soa.com) and Parasoft (www.parasoft.com) are partnering to offer an integrated governance and testing suite for Service-Oriented Architectures. Their partnership allows users to combine Web services management and error refactoring for SOA and Web service-based applications. SOA Software’s portfolio includes SOLA, a mainframe Web services solution for CICS programmers. Parasoft has SOAtest, a suite of products focused on automated error protection. So, what’s going on with CICS? It looks like the answer is definitely SOA. IBM has filled in most of the other “gaps” that existed in the product and now has something more than ready to face the brave new world of browser-based working. Those other software vendors are helping to make this SOA development as easy as possible. CICS Update is published by Xephon (www.xephonusa.com). If you have a CICS-related article that you would like published or even an idea for an article, please contact the editor, Trevor Eddolls, at TrevorE@xephon.com.

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