The Guide Share Europe Conference at Whittlebury Manor was as excellent this year as in previous years. I was only able to make Day 1 on 5 November, but I had a great day. Apart from the 5 star presentations, it’s always fun to catch up with old friends and people I’ve spoken to at webinars, but never actually seen. Plus there’s an opportunity to catch up with a number of vendors and find out what’s happening with them and business in general.
The day started with a couple of keynotes from Tesco’s Tomas Kadlec talking about Technology the retailers battlefield – zSeries reports for duty!”, and the University of Bedfordshire’s Dr Herbert Daly talking about “Re-framing the mainframe: new generations and regenerations on System z”.
I chair the Virtual IMS user group and the Virtual CICS user group, so my time is always split between the CICS and IMS sessions. This year, I started with IBM’s Kyle Milner’s “z/OS Explorer and CICS Explorer (5.1.1)”. Kyle started by saying that z/OS Explorer is really called IBM Explorer for z/OS, and V2.1 is separate from CICS Explorer, which integrates with it. Z/OS Explorer is a desktop tool that integrates with MQ Explore, Data Studio, Rational tools (RTC), Rational Developer for z (RDz), IMS Enterprise Suite Explorer, and other tools. It allows users to view, delete, and create files on z/OS and Linux; work on SPOOL files; and much more. It’s installed using Installation Manager in a process that’s much like getting apps from the apps store. CICS Explorer lets users create new program definitions, clone resources, and other life-cycle operations. It’s built on the Eclipse framework V4.2.2.
IBM’s Greg Vance spoke about “GDPS Active-Active and IMS replication”. He described how recovery involved two concepts: the Recovery Point Objective and the Recovery Time Objective. He looked at how recovery had evolved to the point where people wanted almost immediate recovery with almost no lost data. Active-Active replication involves stopping sending transactions to one database, waiting for the last transaction to replicate across, and then sending transactions to the second database. The transactions caught before the switch over just appear a bit slow to the user. For this to work with IMS, you need InfoSphere Data Replication for IMS for z/OS V1.11. Because it uses asynchronous replication, there are no restrictions on the distance between databases. There’s low latency because of the use of parallelism. And there’s transaction consistency.
Back at the CICS stream, I saw IBM’s David Harris talk about “Eliminating the batch window with modern batch”. David starting by explaining that batch jobs often had to run when online services were down because they needed exclusive access to resources. However, there are many drivers to keep the online system available the whole time leaving little or no time for traditional batch applications to run. The solution he proposed involved running batch at the same time as the online system – and this batch system relied on Java. It comes with a big plus in that it can run in a zAAP coprocessor. Using the Batch Data Stream Framework (BDSF), it allows checkpointing, and business objects can be re-used. The batch container is a long-running CICS job, and WebSphere Application Server (WAS) is used to schedule the jobs into CICS.
Informatica’s John Boyle spoke about “IMS test data management”. He explained that we needed only a subset of data to work on in testing, and we need to hide sensitive data – particularly in light of data privacy legislation and to reduce the risk of sensitive data loss. John also stressed the need for the test data to be kept current and internally consistent. Data masking is the technique that hides personal data and it must be consistent across the data. Test software must allow policies to be applied and maintain referential integrity. It first has to establish what to mask and how to mask.
IBM’s Paul Fletcher spoke about “IMS 13 Native SQL for COBOL”. A pre-req for this COBOL V5.1, which has only just been released. COBOL programs supply SQL keywords and support static and dynamic SQL. At the moment, IMS supports only dynamic SQL. Users need to declare tables, define an SQL Communication Area (SQLCA), which is like a PCB, possibly define an SQL Descriptor Area (SQLDA), declare data items for passing data between IMS and host languages, code SQL statements to access IMS, check the SQLCA to verify the execution of the SQL statements, and handle any SQL error codes. Paul told the group that there are three types of dynamic SQL. Firstly, where the whole SQL is known when the program is written. Secondly, where the SQL is known but the value can vary. And, thirdly, where none of the SQL is known – it’s read from a file. Users need to fully qualify all tables and columns; use a WHERE clause for key fields; and use PREPARE.
The exhibition hall was packed and lively, giving people a chance to find out about various products and services. An excellent day of learning and networking was rounded off by fireworks and a barbecue dinner. I’m sorry I couldn’t make the second day. If you didn’t make GSE this year, I recommend that you go next year.