IT Management

This year seems to be shaping up as the year of mainframe Linux. Finally, we’re seeing the level of user activity rising, more data center-oriented developments from the standards bodies and industry leaders, and a whole raft of intriguing announcements from IBM and the Independent Software Vendor (ISV) community.

At the strategic level, the Open Source Development Labs are continuing to focus on the business-critical elements of Linux deployment. Version 1.1 of its DCL (Data Center Linux) Goals and Capabilities document addresses issues such as security, clustering and storage networking, highlighting the extent to which Linux is moving beyond file/print/Web server applications into the transactional and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) territory.

Meanwhile, at the recent LinuxWorld conference, IBM and Novell were waxing lyrical about the benefits of Linux in the data center and the vast opportunities for software developers. But it wasn’t all talk. The main result of their joint efforts (with Red Hat) is the delightfully named Chiphopper— delightful, that is, in comparison with the official IBM product name, eServer Application Server Advantage for Linux. Chiphopper is a cross-platform toolset and a comprehensive testing environment, which gives ISVs the necessary support to implement their Linux applications on one eServer platform and then “hop” them rapidly to IBM’s other platforms. It isn’t specifically a mainframe tool, but the implications for deploying new applications on the zSeries are plain to see. Chiphopper is evidence, in product form, of a concerted effort within IBM to coax software developers into the IBM fold, offering them not just a single platform but a growth path for their software product across the whole IBM hardware range, from entry-level servers and clusters up to the mainframe.

We’re beginning to see the results of such efforts already. For example, Finnish Security specialist SSH, developer of the Secure Shell protocol and provider of the Tectia server and middleware, recently launched itself into the mainframe world with both a native z/OS offering and a Linux range that spans zSeries, iSeries, pSeries, OpenPower, and BladeCenter.

BMC Lends a Hand With VM Skills

BMC has also had its sights on Linux, and recently rolled out MAINVIEW for VM Systems Cloning, responding to the need to simplify the process of cloning and running those hundreds of Linux images running under VM on the mainframe. This tool will be a real asset to those companies that pensioned off all their VM specialists just before Linux gave it a new lease on life, not to mention those that are discovering the joys of VM for the very first time! According to BMC, administrators currently have to go through scripts, using IBM’s DirMaint utility and CA’s VMSecure. MAINVIEW for VM Systems Cloning builds on DirMaint to help facilitate the cloning process.

CA Pledges Support for VSE

With all the excitement surrounding z/OS and Linux/VM, it’s easy to forget there’s still a thriving community of smaller mainframe users running VSE, some of whom have been reluctant to migrate to the latest levels of function. When VSE became z/VSE, it underlined IBM’s long-term commitment to the operating system, and re-established the market for ISV services.

Computer Associates, which has a long history of product support for small and medium-size installations on VSE, has announced “Day One” support for z/VSE 3.1, and says it worked closely with IBM during the early testing phase of the software. This release of VSE is designed specifically for the z890 and z990 as well as SCSI disk devices attached to Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) channels.

Other News  

Among other recent mainframe announcements: GT Software has announced Release 2.0 of Ivory Web Services, its product set for bottom-up and top-down processing for CICS Transaction Server composite services. The new WSDL discovery and import function allows Ivory to reuse any Web service metadata and map that data onto existing CICS applications.

Mainframe storage and recovery specialist Mainstar has unveiled SYSchange, a new change control tool developed by Pristine Software. The new tool takes Mainstar’s directory-level expertise to a higher level, allowing customers to track and audit changes from a central point of control and compare and synchronize software and data at home and disaster recovery sites.

NetManage has announced OnWeb 7.2, building on its vision for end-to-end host integration and composite application deployment with support for .NET and Java-based connectors for enterprise applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle, Siebel, and JD Edwards.