Monday, 8 September 2008

Whatever happened to CICS Update?

The CICS Listserv at LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU had a message on it recently from John Klavon with the subject, “Has anyone received CICS Update Manuals Lately”. He goes on to say, “CICS Update is a Xephon magazine... I have been trying to contact them for a long time since we have not been receiving the book. Does anyone know anything regarding this company?”

John almost immediately got a reply from Scott McFall of ProTech Professional Technical Services, who said: 
“Xephon unfortunately is no more :-(
I still carefully hoard my various copies of the "The Handbook of IBM Terminology" (circa '90-98).....a bible for z/OS sales/bus dev guys like me!
I have been in touch some former Xephon employees recently, Trevor Eddolls and Mark Lillycrop. Mark and Trevor now each have their own companies in the UK and among other things publish The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook (a free download I believe).  Trevor is still publishing books, articles, and online content as well...I believe now for TCI Publications and z/Journal.”

I just wanted to use this blog to fill in some of the gaps in that answer and talk a bit about sharing mainframe information.

CICS Update was the first of the Update publications produced by Xephon. Its first issue appeared in December 1985. It was an A5-sized publication and contained about ten articles written by systems programmers for systems programmers, and also contained code and JCL, so the information in the articles could be implemented by others. 

Xephon originally ran seminars and published surveys. The company was set up in 1980 by Chris Bunyan, Dave Bates, and Jeff Hosier (who created the The Handbook of IBM Terminology – mentioned above). Chris sadly died in 2004. There’s a tribute to him at In addition to the Update journals, Xephon also produced Enterprise MiddlewareThe Mainframe Market Monitor (now published by Arcati –, IBEX surveys, News IS, and Insight IS. It also produced the original Dinosaur Myth – debunking the thinking that mainframes would disappear and alternatives were hugely cheaper.

Other Updates that were produces over the next 20 years included: AIX Update, DB2 Update, Domino/Notes Update, NT Update, Oracle Update, RACF Update, TCP/SNA Update, VM Update, VSAM Update, VSE Update, Web Update, WebSphere Update (formerly MQ Update), and z/OS Update (formerly MVS Update).

In 2004, the Update publications were sold to TCI Publications – the people who produce zJournal. I carried on editing them until 2007. Then in March 2008 publication ceased.

The problem with the Updates was that they were subscription journals, ie people had to pay up-front to receive their monthly issue. Nowadays, I guess, when people have a problem with an application or implementing an idea, they just Google it and get free access to information off the Internet. Having said that, there are still a number of people, like John Klavon, who miss receiving their monthly dose of CICS information. This information could stimulate ideas of what could be done at their site, or solve a back-of-the-mind query, or just give them more information about a particular CICS-related topic.

So, the question I’d like to pose is this: would anyone be interested in subscribing (or contributing articles) to a new monthly journal that would be similar in nature to CICS or any of the other Update journals? If you want to get in contact with me directly, my e-mail is I look forward to hearing from you.

1 comment:

T.Rob said...

Hi Trevor,

As a sometime contributor to MQ Update, I lamented the passing of Chris and, eventually, the magazine itself. In my case, the subscription price was too high to pay out of pocket and my company stopped paying for "perks" such as subscriptions many years prior. Had we shared it among the team, it would have been a good investment. But the team was spread across the country in four locations, and later worked mostly remotely. So, although I enjoyed writing for Xephon, the only time I read it regularly was when I was able to receive a subscription as payment.

I do hope that you get some responses to your post from prospective authors as I would love to see these publications continue in some form. But I also hope for the pricing model that will allow a much higher level of subscription. Since MQ Update was fueled in part by its community, I would think wider subscription would result in wider participation by authors.

I have a few ideas kicking around my head and would be happy to contribute a WMQ article or two come January. I already have commitments for the Transaction and Messaging conference in November and an extra developerWorks piece in December.

T.Rob Wyatt
The Deep Queueue - A Podcast about WebSphere MQ Security