While most of the technical press focuses on the sexy side of the Internet, such as Web 2.0, Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the like, big, boring batch and transaction processing systems remain the bread and butter of many large organizations. The lifeblood of these systems, many running z/OS, is electronic data exchange. The Internet has fundamentally changed the relationship between business partners; mainframes previously connected only to private networks using proprietary communication protocols have been forced into the open systems arena. Simply put, z/OS mainframes are routinely expected to exchange files over the Internet using a wide variety of formats, tools, and protocols, many of which aren’t natively supported on z/OS.
What seems like it should be a simple problem—exchanging files with your business partners—can quickly turn into a complicated mess since each seems to have their favorite combination of protocols, compression methods, and encryption algorithms:
• Protocol: FTP, FTPS, SSH/SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS, etc.
• Compression/packing: ZIP, GZIP, TAR, etc.
• Encryption algorithm: PGP, SSL/ TLS, CMS/PKCS#11, etc.
Solving the exchange format and protocol requirements is only half the battle. When transferring files to platforms other than z/OS, you also must consider:
• Translating from EBCDIC to other codepages
• Converting record-oriented data sets to byte-oriented files: choice of line separators, truncation or wrapping of long lines, trimming of trailing pad characters, etc.
• Support for z/OS data set organizations, record/block formats, and allocation parameters.
In addition, careful attention must be paid to security issues such as: