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IBM Mainframe Modernization and Resource Management

IBM Mainframe Systems and Infrastructure Decisions

IBM continues to make improvements to its Z mainframe hardware systems. Modernizing mainframe systems presents an opportunity for reducing cost and achieving return on investment through integration with data center infrastructure.

IBM Mainframe System Resources and Strategies:
Investment in Hardware Infrastructure

  CPU Capacity   Reliability   Data Center Integration  
  Energy Efficiency   High Availability   Scalability  
Maintenance Upgrading Migration

Mainframes remain an important part of IBM hardware and software technology and its data center management strategies.The capability to have other computers plug into an IBM mainframe system serves to extend mainframe strengths in security and always-on availability to other systems. The mainframe can then be used to manage the hardware and software applications.

In July 2017, IBM introduced the z14 mainframe. The z14 has ten percent more performance per core than the z13, and there are up to 170 configurable cores. This translates into up to 35 per cent more total capacity in a single footprint compared to a z13. Each z14 can have up to 32 TB memory. In addition to processing huge amounts of information more efficiently, it supports new workloads, data-in-memory applications, and larger local buffer pools. The compression co-processor in each core uses fewer CPU cycles for compression and expansion.

New instructions in the SIMD: single instruction multiple data improve price/performance throughput efficiencies in decimal operations with legacy programming languages and analytical processing The GSF: Guarded Storage Facility enables enterprise scale Java applications to run with fewer and shorter pauses for garbage collection on large and growing heaps.

Advantages associated with the IBM mainframe design include:

  • Providing data center integration and the ability to treat the data center as a single system.
  • Efficiently blending tasks and parceling out parts of an application to different computer systems.
  • Incorporating Linux and UNIX machines to perform complex applications - easier and at less cost.

In addition to the IBM strategic imperatives, mainframes can be used by organizational enterprise to address requirements relating to evolving business models and competition in the market: mobile apps, APIs, and cloud computing: private, public, and hybrid. This includes using agile development, DevOps, and microservices with different components, frameworks, and programming languages.

Mainframe Infrastructure Challenges

Organizational enterprise has a substantial investment in mainframe infrastructure and inventory of applications specific to its business model and operations. Applications developed 30 or more years ago with legacy programming languages and IBM system software remain in use. The challenge is to integrate back-end legacy systems with newer client/server and web-based systems and deliver reliable message queuing between applications. There is considerable complexity associated with the efficient and reliable movement of data. The goal is to accurately identify and model the business logic, structure of the data, and processing throughput. Then to cost effectively repurpose existing software assets and establish a framework for long term maintainability.

There are multiple operating strategies to select from: SOA: service oriented architecture, web servicization, platform migration, and application migration. A web-enabled application can be accessed through the organization web site or a native application. An advantage associated with a web-enabled application is the utilization of other web services for security and personalization. The web service information also can be used in helping administrators troubleshoot mainframe applications.

In many situations the work force which designed, coded, and maintained these applications will be reaching retirement age.

Linux and IBM Mainframe Systems

In conjunction with making significant code contributions to the open source community, IBM has been incorporating Linux into its mainframe systems.  By combining open source software with IBM proprietary hardware; this provides customer flexibility and choice for reducing the costs of software products.  The Linux mainframes support the same open source operating systems as IBM Linux Power servers and including many applications and tools. This common environment applies to all of IBM major server platforms and is designed to allow clients to move and scale workloads.

The Linux Foundation has an Open Mainframe Project. Organizations from academia, government and corporate sectors contribute to the advancing the development of Linux on mainframes through better security and performance. IBM strategy is to expose the Linux mainframes to new developer communities and stimulate innovation around this code base. IBM LinuxONE Developer Cloud offers open access to corporate and third-party developers to encourage application development for the new platforms at no charge. IBM also has been releasing open source software. The zAware is an enterprise-class analytics software used in mainframe installations. It monitors and analyzes logs and cloud-based events and applies triggers to automation processes.

IBM has committed to enable OSS products, such as Apache Spark and MongoDB, on z Systems. IBM has agreements with Red Hat and SUSE; these Linux-variants are available on IBM mainframe systems. IBM executed an agreement with Canonical Ltd. to have a version of Ubuntu for IBM's Z Systems to provide scale-out and cloud capabilities.

Mainframe Technology in Transition

IBM z/OS Operating System Scalability, Performance, and Problem Determination

The IBM z/OS mainframe operating system provides for economies of scale and adaptability of resources. Used in conjunction with the IBM System z Enterprise Class server, the z/OS operating system can significantly reduce requirements for partitioning application and data on unnatural boundaries. For large z/OS mainframe installations, a proper configuration will: 1- Consolidate enterprise datastores. 2- Co-locate applications close to the data. 3- Reduce the incidence of siloed data in the enterprise. HiperDispatch provides improved performance by distributing and managing z/OS workloads on scalable n-way systems.

The z/OS operating system has an expanded featureset and administrative interface for problem identification, recommended solutions, and resource migration.

Featureset and Utilities Purpose
Capacity Provisioning Manager Monitors z/OS systems on System z servers. It can be used to activate and deactivate temporary capacity automatically or by user input.
Configuration Assistant for z/OS Communications Server Adds file import capabilities and support for IP address group definition; this serves to make the Configuration Assistant more responsive to networking requirements.
IBM Health Checker for z/OS Provides additional checking capability and support for log browsing and saving data across IPLs: Initial Programs Loads. It also supports and integrates Migration Health Checks.
Hardware Configuration Manager Supports configuration packages and the importing and exporting of I/O configuration data.
z/OS Management Facility A utility with a new interface used in the system administration of the z/OS operating system.
z/OS PFA: Predictive Failure Analysis Monitors the rate at which SMF records are generated. Alerts are generated for proactively reacting to system problems.
z/OS Runtime Diagnostics Monitors the system message log and address space resources. It is used in the gathering of data required for real-time decisions in the event of a system problem.

IBM z/VSE Operating System - Technology Support

The IBM z/VSE operating system is based upon a different hardware architecture and job control language than the z/OS operating system. IBM z/VSE extends the utilization of 64-bit virtual storage capabilities; applications use 64-bit input/output processing. CICS Transaction Server under z/VSE supports containers and channels and provides a flexible mechanism for interchanging large amounts of data between CICS programs.

The z/VSE mainframe operating system builds upon IBM zEnterprise and IBM System Z technology:

  • The capability to dynamically add logical CPs for reduced preplanning and the need for planned outages; the z/VSE system has the capability to adjust workload requirements.
  • Large one megabyte page support for data spaces to more efficiently utilize large processor storage and provide the capability for improving performance in long-running applications with intensive data space access.
  • The use of the AP: Adjunct Processor-queue adapter-interruption facility for accelerating SSL throughput during cryptographic operations.

  • The Z14 contains on each chip a no-charge CPACF: Central Processor Assist for Cryptographic Function core.

IBM z/VM Operating System - Scalability, Efficiency, and Throughput

The IBM z/VM operating system has been optimized for scalability and reducing system overhead, increased system and guest throughput, and consolidating workloads on the IBM zEnterprise and System Z servers. Data-in-memory techniques enhance the scalability and performance of memory-intensive workloads.

The z/VM operating system provides flexibility in managing enterprise application workloads:

  • By virtualizing processor, memory, communications, I/O, and networking resources.
  • Through the use of HiperSockets for the implementation of virtual networks.
  • Through the utilization of DCSS: Discontiguous Saved Segment support for storing Linux program executables in a single z/VM memory location, and sharing the executables with hosted Linux systems.
  • With a z/VM performance toolkit for monitoring and performance reporting.

Mainframe Training by SYS-ED

Mainframe information technology is in transition. However, application development is not going to be exclusively JEE or Microsoft .NET. IBM system software still will have a significant role.

  • IBM CICS Transaction Server will account for a substantial share of overall application server processing.
  • IBM Db2 / DB2 is and multiplatform object-SQL Database Management System; Db2 for z/OS has few direct competitors.
  • IBM MQ:(WebSphere MQ) middleware is the industry leading message switching and routing software; it supports IBM's WebSphere Application Server and Rational development platform, and a variety of third party database and web server platforms.
  • Enterprises are still utilizing IBM-IMS, CA-IDMS, and Software AG ADABAS legacy datastores.

SYS-ED provides mainframe courses and training programs for Fortune 1000 corporations, government municipalities, healthcare providers, and consulting companies. We have a history of success in providing specialized training services on IBM mainframe systems: operations, programming skills, programming languages, telecommunications, and system software. SYS-ED's mainframe training service has been developed and extended to serve as an alternative to the IBM academic initiative for mainframe education. It has been designed to augment IBM support centers.

Our staff of system consultants are teachers who demonstrate and explain. We have been called upon by leading software and consulting companies, including IBM, to teach courses both for clients and their own in-house staff of software engineers and application developers.

When information technology professionals leave a SYS-ED mainframe course, they will have documentation, training aids, and sample and skeleton programs which can be used back on the job to help in performing specific tasks.

In conjunction with presenting an instructor-led mainframe course at the client location, courseware is organized for future use in a web-based infrastructure and delivery medium.

Courseware for Teaching

The courseware used in SYS-ED courses consists of student handouts, presentation slides, training aids, and industry-specific exercises. The CETi knowledge base aggregates and analyzes information in the public domain. Content selectively is added to courseware. The long term strategy is to be evaluated as a NRV: Nationally Recognized Vendor with the New York State Department of Education.

Mainframe Courseware as a Learning Center
z/OS Mainframe - Basic Mainframe Courseware for Teaching
Courseware for Teaching
Mainframe Student Handout
Student Handout
Mainframe Reference Guides
Reference Guide
PL/1 Programming
Programming Skills and Languages
Programming Skills
Mainframe Utilities and Development Tools
Mainframe Programming Languages
Java Platform and Language
System Software
CICS Transaction Server
Db2 / DB2 Relational Database
IMS Transaction Server
IBM MQ Middleware
WebSphere and Rational

Grow Your Own Mainframe Personnel

There have been inquiries regarding whether SYS-ED still offered mainframe courses for information technology professionals.

Web-based Training Services

Web-based Training

Mainframe Training Experience

Programming Language Training Services

New York State Department of Education Standards

Premium Training Service

CICS Transaction Server COBOL Programming DB2 Relational Database IMS Transaction Server
Mainframe Utilities
and Tools
Java Language VSAM IBM MQ

Colleges and Academic Institutions Financial Services Healthcare Providers Training Programs

The typical comments were that:

1. It is difficult to find mainframe training which develops the specialized skills needed for mainframe systems and operational maintenance.
2. There is a scarcity of programming language and system software courses geared to employees for Fortune 1000 corporations, government municipalities, and healthcare providers.
3. A high percentage of mainframe courses are cancelled.
4. Travel costs and living expenses are a significant constraint when it comes to attending a mainframe course.
5. It is important to have a resource for asking mainframe questions once the training is complete.

In response to these questions:

Mainframe Training Services Yes, SYS-ED offers multiple levels of mainframe training.
Mainframe Training Services Yes, since 1980, SYS-ED has taught mainframe courses and training programs.
Mainframe Training Services Yes, we have the flexibility and resources to conduct personalized training for small groups. We very rarely cancel mainframe courses.
Mainframe Training Services Mainframe courses are available in multiple formats: distance-learning, blended web-based learning, and classroom instruction.
Mainframe Training Services Upon completion of a SYS-ED course, our staff is available to answer mainframe questions.

IBM Mainframe Cross Operating System Support

IBM System Z servers are supported under z/OS, z/VSE, Linux on System z, and the z/VM hypervisor. Cross operating system support provides an integrated scalable development and production platform for both large and middle size enterprise environments: 64-bit architecture, compilers, data access methods, security, enterprise middleware software, SOA development and usage, and web development.

  z/OS   z/VM   z/VSE   Linux on System z  
  Down-arrow   Down-arrow   Down-arrow   Down-arrow  
  Always-on Reliability   Security   System Cleanup  
First Failure Data Capture 64-bit z/Architecture High Performance Computing
  Inter System Communication   Cross System Compilers   IBM MQ Middleware  
  IBM CICS Transaction Server   IBM Db2 Platform   IBM WebSphere and Rational  

Foundation for Multiple Strategies

Maintanenance Programming Service Oriented Architecture Distributed Processing
Web Servicization Application Migration
    Web 2.0 RIA     Platform Migration    

Distance-learning Service

SYS-ED offers a subset of its mainframe courses in a web-based learning format. The distance-learning training service is an extension of the SYS-ED schedule, inclusive of courseware and training aids. A distance-learning course is 65% lecture with review questions, examples, workshops, and website support services.

Mainframe Training Service

Enrollment requires a consultation with the manager sending the employee for the training. The prospective trainee needs to be qualified for the course and service transmission to the client location tested: bandwidth, firewall, base operating system, software requirements, web browser, and set up of machine exercises.

SYS-ED reserves the right to deny enrollment in its courses.

Mainframe Training Programs

SYS-ED offers entry level and specialized mainframe training programs. Entry level training programs consist of four components: z/OS operating system, programming skills, programming language, and system software. These programs have been developed and refined over a quarter century of teaching and draw upon the CETi courseware library.

Specialized mainframe training programs are comprised of course modules selected by the client organization: topics, examples, workshops, validation assessments, and duration. Clients can elect to have project specifications included into the exercises as part of on the job training.

Entry Level Mainframe Assembler Language COBOL Language
PL/1 Language z/OS Operations and System Programming CICS Transaction Server
Java Language DB2 and Java Platform RAD: Rational Application Development

There are web server and web enabling technologies which in many situations will require integration with the existing mainframe systems and enterprise databases. Virtualization plays an important role in mainframe hardware. By implementing virtualization software, it is possible to virtualize the processor, memory, storage I/O and networking resources into aggregated pools - applications can utilize resource pools without regard to specific hardware. This improves utilization of the mainframe and reduces the need for upgrades. The z/VM operating system can support hundreds of Linux images simultaneously.

Web-enabled applications can be accessed by the company website or a native application. An advantage associated with a web-enabled application is the utilization of other web services such as security and personalization. Web service information also can help administrators troubleshoot mainframe applications.

SYS-ED trained first generation mainframe personnel in a variety of industries during the 1980ís. And look forward to the opportunity and challenge of training their successors in the twenty-first century. Albeit, with a more comprehensive set of delivery options for conducting the training.

Mainframe Training

Mainframe Courses
SYS-ED's mainframe courses are used by Fortune 1000 companies, government municipalities, healthcare providers, software houses, and consulting companies to meet staffing requirements and acquire specialized mainframe skillsets.1

SYS-ED's mainframe courseware draws upon a library of sample programs, training aids, workshops, and case studies. Tailored workshops and integrated training programs can be provided on z/OS, z/VSE, z/VM, and third party emulation workbench and platforms.

Teaching is Our Business
Most computer training companies are divisions of large software companies or consulting companies. Not SYS-ED. Our only goal is to provide mainframe training for motivated IT professionals. This independence allows us to concentrate on teaching.

Our Teachers Know How to Teach
SYS-ED instructors combine teaching skills with experience in the mainframe environment - operating systems, programming languages, third party utilities and development tools, and system software. After a course, they are available to answer questions.

Enrollment - SYS-ED Mainframe Courses are Not for Everyone
No one is allowed to enroll in a SYS-ED mainframe course, without a consultation with our Director of Education. We review the operational objectives and project specifications for the organization evaluating whether to send its employee for the training. The employee only is allowed to enroll if they have the background corresponding to the appropriate learning path: mainframe, COBOL, REXX, SAS, VSAM, CICS, IMS, Db2, IBM MQ, and system software - web enablement.

Mainframe Training - Distance-learning or at Your Office
SYS-ED mainframe courses are provided over the Internet through a distance-learning delivery medium or in classroom instruction. Client location courses can include the same workshops and case studies as the SYS-ED schedule.

Footnote 1:

SYS-EDís core mainframe curriculum have been submitted to the New York State Department of Education - Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision for technical review and licensing.

Sources - IBM Hardware