- Introduced true portability for demonstrations at trade shows and seminars.
Tiburon Technologies is also in a partnership arrangement with Computer Associates and they run several CA products on their ThinkPad under z/OS. The key piece of software that lets z/OS run on a laptop is the low-level emulator software known as FLEX-ES. Without getting too technical, think of FLEX-ES as a 100 percent software emulation of the entire instruction set of z/OS, designed from the ground up to run on ASCII-based, Pentium-class machines.
Cornerstone Systems, primary distributor of FLEX-ES, is the reseller Tiburon used. Fundamental Software developed FLEX-ES. Cornerstone refers to the z/OS on a ThinkPad option as the zPad. The sidebar shows Tiburon Technologies’ initial zPad configuration, which is a typical developer set-up.
As a Tiburon developer, I do occasional development work on Tiburon’s machine. It involves quite a bit of assembling, compiling, testing, and working out kinks in software that I work on. Initially, I was doubtful about zPad, but not anymore. I use the machine regularly. I’m in Chicago, and the laptop is in Cleveland. If I hadn’t been told that I was working on a zPad machine, I would never have known it. The machine handles everything with blinding speed, the usual bulletproof mainframe reliability, and has never caused me a single problem. What made me a believer is the absolute transparency, consistent “look and feel,” and seeing for myself all the great new z/OS software running on a laptop.
zPad is actually better than working on the IS/390. The only “kink” came early after the rollout. The debug tool that comes with the Language Environment (LE) was installed but not activated. After a few quick calls and e-mails to Cornerstone and IBM, it was up and running as well as any implementation I’ve seen on any mainframe. I was so intrigued that I asked my colleagues at Tiburon the following questions to gain further insight into their selection of the ThinkPad/zPad solution:
Jim Moore (JM): Is this exclusively a developer/integrator deal? That is, could a non-IT business or governmental agency (e.g., a small school district) get the same hardware configuration?
Tiburon: Pretty much, yes. Anyone could acquire what we did. Of course, the price would be different for the types of entities you asked about. We bought the machine through Cornerstone because
IBM doesn’t sell directly at this level. Anyone could work with a distributor to buy a similar machine.
JM: What kind of ThinkPad does it actually run on in terms of memory, CPU, and internal hard-drive? What about storage and power requirements?