CICS Celebrates Its Golden Anniversary in 2019

By Nick Garrod, IBM UK, CICS SHARE REP and Glenn Schneck, GT Software, CICS Project Chair

On July 8, 1969, IBM released Customer Information Control System (CICS), one of its first Software Program Products. To put this in perspective, the Beatles had just played their last live performance on the rooftop of Abbey Road; Mr. Neil Armstrong was about to take a small step;  and Concorde was about to make its first commercial flight.

Originally developed for the public utility industry, CICS has prospered for 50 years, through two eras. The history of CICS can be broken down into two development segments. The first 25 years were spent addressing architecture adaptation, i.e. ability to run CICS on different operating system architectures, OS/VS1, MVS, ESA, VSE, Unix and others. The subsequent 25 years, and continuing today, were spent addressing a new wave of application development languages with the ability to run CICS applications.

As early as 1998, we saw CICS Transaction Server (TS) V1.3 provide initial Java support, which has been on a continual path of enhancement ever since. The alignment with hardware instruction sets have made Java a viable and robust language for enterprise performance computing, while still providing the qualities of service that customers have come to rely on.

CICS TS V5.5 added support for Node.JS, a language 60 percent of developers know, per a Stack Overflow study. This continues CICS’ tradition of broad language support, including: assembly language, COBOL, PL/I, C, C++, REXX, and Java.

While a recent report from the GAO suggests that “Mainframes and Servers Services Support are facing significant risks due to their reliance on legacy programming languages…” this is simply untrue. According to a Reuters report (and as further addressed in Scott Fagen’s October Message from SHARE: FUD Fighting), “there are 220 billion lines of COBOL in use today; 95 percent of ATM transactions, and 80 percent of in-person transactions use COBOL.”  CICS continued support of COBOL addresses these concerns, as well as providing opportunities for modernization through the support of contemporary languages.

IBM and mainframe ISVs provide tools to support the current emphasis on APIs, allowing CICS to participate in today’s world of dispersed data aggregation. These tools continue to enhance the value of existing CICS applications, as well as the ability to develop new CICS ones.

CICS development continues to be on the leading edge by providing a “new way into CICS.”  Initially called the CICS Explorer, this product was developed and built on an Eclipse framework, making access to the mainframe and CICS resources easier and more intuitive. It has since been expanded to other Explorers, for MQ, IMS, and Db2, as well as z/OS. The CICS Explorer has continued to evolve, providing multiple perspectives to suit different roles.  In the latest release, a longstanding requirement has been satisfied by providing aggregation and summary, made possible with underlying GraphQL technology.

Over the past 50 years, CICS development continues at the forefront of responding to customer requirements and adopting new technology. In all releases of Version 5, more than 500 RFEs (Requests For Enhancement) have been satisfied. The CICS Explorer aggregation and summary function is a classic example of a long-standing customer requirement being delivered.

For any product to stay successful and ahead of the game for 50 years, a rich ecosystem of partners is essential. CICS has benefited extensively from vendor support augmenting its value, as well as extending its reach. The formation of user groups around the world that run conferences and provide education and peer-to-peer network opportunities with CICS technical specialists, has also engendered a community spirit that will last long in to the future. The future looks bright for CICS and the mainframe, the healthy community around the mainframe, and the value-extending ecosystem of products.

As IBM Director for CICS Development Steve Wallin says, “Over the last 50 years, CICS has demonstrated the ability to evolve and integrate the latest application languages and frameworks, while continuing to support, enhance, and extend customer investment in existing applications. When we think that around the world, each and every second, CICS is serving over 1.2 million requests–compared to the 70,000 Google searches or 8,000 Twitter posts that occur during the same timeframe–CICS is critical to our digital economy. I’m looking forward to the next 50 years of innovation and support for our customers business-critical applications.”

Here’s to the next 50 years!

Want to learn more about CICS, join us at SHARE Phoenix in March!

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