Rocket Software is Making z/OS more Open

Twenty years ago, IBM introduced OpenEdition MVS, their first foray into “opening” the mainframe to a new community of developers. This release included the Shell and Utilities priced feature.  Production cost varied with the size of the mainframe. If you consider that only a handful of people might actually use this code when originally shipped, the “cost per seat” was astronomical compared to what was free or inexpensive on desktop systems.  This was corrected when IBM began shipping this feature as part of the base of the new OS/390 operating system. This dramatically reduced the cost and skills needed for new workload development on the mainframe for customers and vendors. But without the revenue associated with the previously priced feature, IBM didn’t keep up with the open source community and quickly, these tools fell behind. This was an unintended consequence.

Over the years, IBM worked to resolve this through relations with other companies and their own developers, but the net was the code was still aging, until they met with Rocket Software. Rocket has been in the business of supporting  mainframe customers for over twenty five years. IBM found that Rocket was using open source tools within their own z/OS development team. Given the gap in true “openness” for z/OS, Rocket decided to release their source modifications and z/OS binaries into the open source community. Through the Rocket web site, any business can download the z/OS binaries at no charge, just as they might do with Linux offerings. If a business is looking for support of those binaries, a fee offering is available, just as one might find from the paid Linux distro providers.

Rocket originally provided five ported tools as a trial last year. This month, Rocket has delivered over four times that number of tools. This re-opens the Unix System Services development environment of z/OS. This latest group of ported tools can be utilized to bring more open source middleware and utilities to z/OS, by customers, other vendors or Rocket Software. Rocket is working to provide a level of skills portability across platforms and ease the knowledge base required to create, build and operate on the mainframe, regardless of z/OS, Linux or z/VM operating system deployment. Rocket has also developed Application Lifecycle Management  for Linux on System z. This new offering is currently available as a beta offering. It’s goal is to provide greater management of Linux applications that are natively developed and managed on and from the mainframe.

Now, let’s dream how the new ported tools can be used on z/OS. Some basic items: make will help you take other open source code and get that built for z/OS.  If you are considering some of your own development activities on z/OS, cvs can be deployed as a source code library management tool. In every instance, it’s all about how the use of open source software can be integrated with existing applications and databases to create something new that’s better than a collection of software that runs across platforms. Websphere developers that work on Linux or Windows systems will find some of these new tools will add value and ease deployment and improve skills portability for building applications for z/OS. If you really want to go crazy, the Apache web server is now part of z/OS. Add in PHP and DB2 and you can have WordPress running on z/OS. Now why have WordPress? You might integrate directly into your business applications.

Rocket’s not done adding to this list. If you ask nicely, they might be willing to give you an update to bash – a shell program that’s common on all Linux and the MacOS system. In fact, if there are other tools that you are interested in, let them know via their contact site. The ported tools can be accessed here. The Application Management Lifecycle for Linux tool can be accessed by sending an email here. Happy programming.

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Unintended Consequences

I’ve found that many times in my career, a decision that was made for one reason, had unintended consequences in another area. Sometimes, these were good things and sometimes, they were not. I’ve decided to write about some of these activities in this blog. So you’ll see this title, as a recurring theme throughout my writings.

Here’s a list of the items I’m thinking about writing. Let me know what you think is most interesting to you and I’ll try to get them done earlier than the others:

  1. z/OS “stabilizes” it’s Shell and Utilities offerings at very old code levels- Rocket Software “fixes” that.  Done.
  2. OS/390 and z/OS are a better package, but they lost their sales channel. Now Solution Editions and new workloads help to drag z/OS. TCO and High Availability remain king.
  3. Apple and IBM mobile deal is pretty cool, but reminds me that Apple MacOS and z/OS are a lot alike – tons of value in a single package  – Done
  4. Use of z/OS Unix System Services introduces “surrogate” security – which might end up giving too much authority to an individual – what can be done to reduce that risk.
  5. MVS and zVM might have been considered the first cloud platform, but no one originally marketed it that way. Now, ASG’s Cloudfactory provides an Amazon Web services like front end for z/OS workloads. Done
  6. The IBM Mainframe is advertised as hacker proof, but the weakest link is not the mainframe, it’s the end user interface and people using them. What can be done to help prevent problems? Use of Intellinx zWatch is one method that a wide range of customers use to prevent human errors across platforms.
  7. Application development on the mainframe wasn’t always as simple as it was before the IBM Rational products came along and the Unit Test feature was added, which is also known as  the zPDT . This was difficult to bring to market. For the first time,  IBM separated development pricing from production pricing.
  8. Linux is ported to S/390 in December 1999.  Novell is offered the opportunity to be the first vendor on Linux on S/390. They say no.
  9. Human Resource lessons learned in a 30+ year career.
  10. High availability lessons learned. It’s not always the technology, it’s the process.
  11. Multi Level Security – probably the answer to a lot of cloud sharing problems, but no one knows what it is or does. It’s in production in some very secure locations today. Done.
  12. Thin Client Computing and usage with Mainframes
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