In this new series, we interview members of the CICS development team to find out more about their work and interests.
After hearing about the new exciting development relating to CICS Monitoring and Statistics, the Editor had a chat with the expert in the area to find out more.
Editor: Hello Chris – thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Shall we start by finding out a little more about your career experience?
Chris: Sure. I joined IBM and CICS Development in 1984 and before that, I was a CICS System Programmer for a large UK utility company, so I've been in and around CICS since around 1976. I've worked in various CICS development and design groups during that time, but I suppose I'm best known for developing the Monitoring and Statistics areas of CICS Transaction Server for z/OS and more recently I've been responsible for the CICS Performance Analyzer product.
Editor: Over 30 years in CICS - that's a long time!! So what are the latest and the greatest in CICS Monitoring and Stats?
Chris: I suppose the biggest things were the enhancements in CICS TS v3.2 where we added data compression support, enhanced the timing measurement precision, as well as providing new performance metrics for the many new functions that continue to be added to CICS TS...My development colleagues keep me busy! I'm also in the lucky position that not only do I work on the product that produces the performance data metrics, but I also work on the CICS PA product which provides the reporting and analysis capabilities...
Editor: I'm not very familiar with CICS Performance Analyser - could you tell me more about it?
Chris: Sure, CICS PA is a comprehensive batch reporting and analysis tool that processes System Management Facility (SMF) records produced by CICS TS and related subsystems, such as DB2, WebSphere MQ, IMS (DBCTL), Tivoli OMEGAMON XE and also now the CICS Transaction Gateway for z/OS.
Editor: Tell me more about this new support for CICS TG... Users can see the performance data on CICS TG too?
Chris: With CICS TG V7.1 it is now possible to collect performance metrics allowing you to monitor and audit your CICS TG systems. CICS PA provides the reporting and analysis capabilities for this new data. In addition there is a new Redbook which shows how to collect this new CICS TG data and also how to use both IBM Tivoli OMEGAMON XE for CICS TG z/OS and CICS Performance Analyzer to monitor your CICS TG systems for the first time.
Editor: This capability is available for people to take advantage...
Chris: Absolutely, one of our key objectives for CICS PA is to provide day one full support and exploitation of any new CICS performance metrics whether this is with a new release or in the case of CICS TG via the service process. In fact we have shipped a number of function enhancements to CICS PA V2.1 since it went GA in June 2007.
Editor: Have you seen any interest already?
Chris: Yes, indeed. At the recent Impact 2008 conference we were pleasantly surprised at the level of interest in this particular new function. I'll tell you what else is new too...
Editor: More cool new things - yes, what else new?
Chris: We have a new SupportPac for CICS PA - CP12: Charting Historical CICS Performance Data. This SupportPac has a number of scenarios that demonstrate how to use CICS PA and create some really neat graphical views of performance data using a spreadsheet tool...
Editor: What are the main scenarios - can you take us through a couple maybe?
Chris: Sure. Let’s discuss a couple of the hot CICS TS topics of the moment. First there's Threadsafe. CICS TS collects extensive performance metrics on transaction performance, response time, how much CPU time, which CICS TCBs are used and so on...But wouldn't it be nice to present that analysis graphically? Well, that's exactly what can be done using a spreadsheet add-in provided in our SupportPac.
Editor: Great - so all in a spreadsheet format most people are familiar with... What’s the 2nd scenario?
Chris: It's a general purpose timeline chart add-in. Basically you can use CICS PA to create any CICS TS or CICS TG statistics data into a CSV file and then chart that statistical data against time.
Editor: So you can represent any CICS TS and CICS TG data of your choice in chronological order graphically - neat!
Chris: It's quite often more intuitive to view performance data graphically rather than just looking through a simple listing style report.
Editor: Sounds like a great SupportPac. Finally, any hot Chris Baker tips?
Chris: One thing I would strongly recommend CICS PA customers to keep up to date with service. It's not just a new release that provides the functional enhancements but in CICS PAs case we are continually enhancing the product via the service process (the CICS TG support is a case in point) and we will continue to do so where we see the business and customer need in the future...
Editor: We'll definitely watch this space... Meanwhile, any further reading you would recommend?
Chris: Obviously there's the CICS PA web site. But I would also recommend the Redbooks on Exploring Systems Monitoring for CICS Transaction Gateway V7.1 for z/OS which I've mentioned earlier and Threadsafe Consideration for CICS.