By Andrew Grzywacz
One of the most hotly anticipated events at this summer’s SHARE in Atlanta is CICS Immersion, a full-day session on the ins and outs of CICS TS Architecture, with a focus on internals, debugging and some of the common problems that CICS system programmers have to face on a day-to-day basis.
The session will be taught by a handful of SHARE’s most seasoned and knowledgeable mainframes experts. To get you a little acquainted with them, we spoke with one of the CICS Immersion instructors, Ed Addison, about his goals for the all-day session and what attendees can expect from it.
CICS Immersion is a relatively new addition to the SHARE Academy lineup. What compelled you and the other instructors to put this session together?
This is only the second year SHARE will be offering this Immersion track, but it’s something that I and the other instructors have been engrossed in for a long time. We have been presenting at SHARE for years, and have spent decades immersing ourselves in CICS. Doing this session seemed like a great idea for concentrating all those years of experience and knowledge into a single, one-day information dump for programmers to absorb and, hopefully, learn from.
How did you first get involved with SHARE, and mainframes in general?
The first SHARE I attended was in Atlanta, in 1997. About five years later I was appointed as an IBM representative on the CICS SHARE board, and have been attending every SHARE since then.
My background in mainframes is a slightly different story… while many of my colleagues learned about mainframes while they were in college, pursuing computer science or math degrees, I actually first became involved with mainframes while I was in the Navy! I joined the Navy after I earned my GED, and even though I didn’t know what a mainframe was at the time – or a computer for that matter – I was assigned to work on the mainframes on the destroyer ship that I served on. For about eight-and-a-half years, I worked on the ship’s mainframes and also doubled as an instructor for how other officers can operate mainframes on naval ships. All told, I’ve got about 30 years’ total experience working with mainframes. I joined IBM in 1988 and have been working there ever since.
What are some of the main problems CICS programmers deal with that you hope to address with this session?
The biggest problem facing CICS programmers today is the skills gap. There’s less investment in CICS education nowadays, so when new mainframe engineers enter the industry, they don’t know as much about CICS as the previous generation did. And now that that previous generation is entering retirement more and more, today’s CICS programmers simply aren’t coming to the job equipped with the skills, knowledge or back-up support that they need. That’s the number one goal for CICS Immersion: to kick start this education effort and make sure that programmers aren’t just crossing their fingers and praying that their systems will run smoothly, but actually have the resources to solve problems as they come up.
When CICS Immersion is over, what takeaway do you hope attendees leave with?
I just really hope they come out of it knowing more than they did before, and returning to their shops with skills or tools they weren’t aware of earlier. We can’t close the knowledge gap in one session, of course, but the more we can do to ensure CICS programmers today are better armed to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of their systems – like internals and debugging – the better groundwork we can lay for the future of CICS programming.
For a day of in-depth CICS programming training from Ed Addison and our other knowledgeable IBM instructors, click here to register for SHARE Academy. The CICS Immersion session runs from 8 am to 5 pm on Sunday, July 31 as part of SHARE Atlanta.