Wednesday, 26 September 2007

CICS V3.2 – do I need it?

IBM has been excitedly telling everyone recently about the latest release of CICS. But the real question is whether sites should be looking to upgrade from 3.1 to 3.2. Is there really any point?

IBM reckons that the upgrade rates to CICS 3.1 were the fastest that it had ever experienced and there was probably a good reason for that – SOA. Service-Oriented Architecture was available for the first time with CICS V3.0, but it was V3.1 that provided the first full production implementation. With so much pressure on sites to save money and provide better business value, you can see that a migration to V3.1 was going to be on the agenda for everyone in order to maximize the benefits that SOA can offer a company. And I would list them here, but you see them in every PowerPoint presentation you sit through these days, so I won’t bother. You know what they are!

So having migrated to V3.1 for all these benefits, do I need to take the next step to the newly-announced V3.2? The answer from IBM is obviously yes, so let’s see what 3.2 has to offer.

V3.1 of CICS in a Web services environment is a heavy user of resources. IBM has tried to do better by optimising the HTTP client and server in the new version. There’s also better management including a way to trace the progress of an end-to-end transaction. This makes use of WSRR – an acronym you’re going to become more familiar with over the next few months. The WebSphere Registery and Repository is a single location for all the available Web services.

Some people found the old message size restrictive – a transaction couldn’t handle all the data they wanted to send. IBM now has MTOM (Message Transaction Optimization Mechanism), which overcomes the problem. V 3.2 has increased transaction granularity and, by exploiting 64-bit architecture, it can handle larger payloads. CICS 3.2 has also seen improvements to the user interface making it easier to install and define regions, and problem location has been enhanced.

So do you need CICS Version 3.2? With the important improvements to SOA and Web services and the other improvements including problem identification, I think the answer is a resounding yes.

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