In this series, we interview members of the CICS development team to find out more about their work and interests. The editor recently had the pleasure of meeting with two ladies who share an office and work on CICS Web Services to find out more about it.
Editor: Welcome Shanna and Pauline and thank you for giving up your time to speak to us. To begin, Shanna, how long have you worked for IBM?
Shanna: I have been working at Hursley for 3 years, since 2005.
Editor: Did you join straight from University?
Shanna: Yes, I completed a Computer Science degree at Warwick University and was then offered a place in both the WebSphere MQ and CICS departments.
Editor: So did you pick CICS as your first option?
Shanna: Yes, because CICS is a product with over 30 years history. Working in CICS could give me a competitive edge and build a strong base for my technical career.
Editor: Pauline, Did you start with IBM in Hursley?
Pauline: No, I started as an Industrial Trainee (IT) at IBM North Harbour in Portsmouth where I worked on systems to support IBM branches around the UK. I think went back to complete my degree in Computer Science at Queen’s University, Belfast and joined CICS in Hursley the following year. I was keen to join IBM again after being an Industrial Trainee, however there was a recruitment freeze in IBM UK that year. I did the usual rounds of interviews and was offered places at Logica and DEC. Before I accepted anything, Hursley was allocated 25 new graduate hiring slots.
Editor: And why did you join CICS?
Pauline: I was interviewed for CICS and GDDM, and chose CICS as I knew it was one of IBM’s most successful software products. I wanted to program and was offered a job in CICS development.
Editor: Which version of CICS did you start working on?
Pauline: That’s a very good question – it was a very long time ago! I joined CICS development in 1987 when CICS/MVS 2.1 was starting. I started off on File Control working on restructure (the first one!) as well as RLS and Coupling Facility Data Tables, with the famous ex-CICS developers like George Czaykowski, Ian Hunter and Ian Rose who have all since retired. Now I’m nearly as old as they were when I joined and I remember thinking they were ancient!
Editor: So you must have seen a few changes in CICS since then?
Pauline: Yes I have – when I joined, the department was very large and I’ve seen it shrink (when distributed computing became more popular) and then grow again – especially in the last few years with the value of the mainframe coming back into the fore and the extension of our function in the whole Internet arena. Our CICS delivery team is now worldwide. The early releases often took 3-4 years to deliver, whereas now we take 2 years at most and we work iteratively, meaning we have Beta deliveries for Customer testing every 4 months. Back then, the whole delivery team was in Hursley. My current teams have developers in Raleigh and testers in China which has brought extra challenges to daily working as we are not all online together. We have quickly got used to working effectively via conference call and Sametime (instant messaging) is invaluable.
Editor: What were your responsibilities on the CICS V3 release?
Pauline: On V3, I was the team leader for the enhancements to the CICS Web and Sockets layer which form the infrastructure for the Web Services Support and for the DPL over IP. The fact that the Web and Sockets layers had already been in place from previous CICS releases meant they could be easily extended for the new support. My team’s focus was to ensure that CICS has a high performing, compliant IP transport layer. The CICS to CICS communication over TCP/IP is important as it recognises the need for an alternative to SNA which accommodates the emerging skill sets available in the marketplace. As this evolves, CICS will also be able to exploit the richness of function provided by TCP/IP. As we receive feedback we will incorporate into our plans for the future.
I’d also like to add that on V3 my team incorporated the SOAP for CICS feature (implemented on V2.3) into mainline CICS in the form of the CICS Web Client API. This was a result of feedback from the use of this feature. Working in a CICS development team, it is always good to hear about the functions we’ve developed. So if you have any feedback, particularly on Web Support (both Client and Server usage) please email
Of all the releases I’ve worked on since I joined, V3 has been the most rewarding as it has made a very positive difference to how CICS is viewed and positioned it rightly as a 'modern' rather than an 'old-fashioned' product. This is quite an achievement for a product that is nearly 39 years old. For the latest release I am leading three focus teams, continuing the improvements to the IP transport layers. It is a very exciting time to be part of CICS development and I would highly recommend it as a career.
Editor: So Shanna, in your time in CICS what have you been working on?
Shanna: I joined CICS in the Web Services team as a developer and worked on a number of main line items for CICS Transaction Server V3.2. I started in the team by supporting the development on LID874 WSBind enhancements. I then played a major role in developing the LID875 WSDL2.0 support, by researching the new features of WSDL2.0, working on the SDD of LID875 and coding. In addition to development, I spent one year in the Web Services test team where I wrote and ran over 200 test cases on both FNT and RTS. I owned d-type MTOM over WebSphere MQ and have been working to update the Web Services Example Application to showcase new functions.
Editor: What are you working on now?
Shanna: I see Web Services in CICS as an exciting area to work in. It enables CICS to compete as one of the market leaders by offering cutting-edge solutions and implementing up-to-date industrial standards. Having talked to a number of CICS customers on how they use CICS Web Services in their systems, I am excited to see how existing functions have been applied and new features such as MTOM/XOP could help them to improve system performance. As a result, I continue to work as a developer in the CICS Web Services team on the new release. In addition, I am keen to update the CICS Web Services Example Application to demo new functionalities that CICS offers from a web browser.
(At this point we had to suspend the interview for a couple of minutes as Shanna had to kick off a series of lengthy test jobs.)
Editor: Hello again! So MTOM, how does that benefit a customer?
Shanna: The SOAP Message Transmission Optimization Mechanism (MTOM) and XML-binary Optimized Packaging (XOP) specifications, often referred to as MTOM/XOP, define a method for optimizing the transmission of large base64 binary data objects within SOAP messages. It can reduce the size of binary objects by 33%. This is achieved by retrieving binary data from a SOAP body and storing it into containers. The SOAP body then contains a URL to reference the binary data. CICS currently supports MTOM/XOP over WebSphere MQ, HTTP or HTTPS.
Editor: Does your CICS experience offer you opportunities at Hursley on other activities?
Shanna: I am keen to innovate in the department. Having had an initial idea to organize a Patent Club in Transaction Processing, I reviewed it with Paul Kettley who then suggested a list of more experienced candidates who are based in TP. I arranged and chaired the following meetings and used "Think Friday" to discuss innovative ideas. The club has been running for over one year and had nine submissions since (of which two are published and one is filed). The ideas covered both TP development and test to enhance current processes. "TechConnect" is another event that I have been leading. It is a Hursley wide event that showcases innovative and interesting technical projects. Every year, TechConnect receives entries from CICS along with other projects at Hursley to a wider lab audience, along with technical leaders and managers.