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z & A > Mainframe User Shop Talk > It's easy to track transactions in CICS applications View modes: 
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melanie - 4/9/2012 11:51:07 AM
It's easy to track transactions in CICS applications
The growing demands of today’s business have led to the requirement for existing CICS applications to be integrated with a variety of external systems. These often consist of web front ends that use Java EE application servers such as WebSphere Application Server, messaging products such as WebSphere MQ, or an enterprise service bus such as WebSphere Message Broker).

The process of integration can create new challenges in the day to day management of the existing CICS transaction processing systems. For instance:

1. New integration technologies are typically based upon TCP/IP instead of SNA networking, and so the resulting CICS transactions do not have SNA session or terminal IDs as principal facilities. This leads to a lack of visibility about the point of origin for CICS transactions that enter via these new TCP/IP technologies, hampering efforts to correlate individual CICS tasks to the clients from which they originated.

2. IP facilities (such as IP addresses, ports, and socket descriptors) are poorly exposed and managed via traditional CICS management interfaces such as CEMT, hampering end-to-end problem diagnosis between CICS components and the IP network.

3. Modern CICS integration technologies such as the CICS web services pipeline or tasks started by the WebSphere MQ trigger monitor lack the unit of work context inheritance previously used by SNA based technologies. In a large CICSplex with requests dynamically routed between CICS regions, this often leads to the inability to navigate back along along an execution path to the originating task and its point of origin in the CICSplex.

To solve these issues CICS TS 4.2 introduced the transaction tracking feature. Transaction tracking is designed to simplify operational tasks and provides the following capabilities:
• The ability to identify the entry point into a CICSplex for all user tasks no matter how they are initiated; this is termed the point of origin.
• The ability to associate all tasks in a CICSplex that have caused a subsequent task to be attached and to identify the parent/child relationship between these tasks.
• The ability to locate specific tasks based on information from the point of origin, such as the client IP address or the TCP/IP service which dispatched the request.
• A new mechanism for tracking transactions attached by adapters supplied by other software products, such as WebSphere MQ or the WebSphere Application Server for z/OS using the WebSphere Optimized Local Adapter (WOLA).

Using these capabilities, it is now much simpler to locate a transaction in CICS based on knowledge of the entry point, such as an IP address, queue name, or SNA logical unit (LU) name. With this information, it is possible to use new search functions in the CICS Explorer® to search the CICSplex to locate other active tasks that have been initiated from the originating task, and to build a picture of the relationships between the associated tasks.

Transaction tracking together with the search functions in CICS Performance Analyzer, gives you the ability to quickly understand the topology of transactions, no matter where they have been dynamically routed. This helps in auditing and problem determination and simplifies the administration skills required to diagnose business applications in CICS.

A CICS TS Developer Trial is available for those who want to assess the value that could be gained from a CICS TS upgrade, before making an upgrade decision. This enables the evaluation of the latest CICS TS capabilities such as the transaction tracking feature described above, in a non-production environment, without the prerequisite time and resources commitments required for a full production migration project.

To download a trial, see CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Developer Trial

For more information about the tracking transactions feature, see
Transaction Tracking in CICS TS 4.2