In honor of our 1,000th hit, behold System Z’s answer to Ruby on Rails: COBOL on Cogs!

In all seriousness, the modern mainframe has come a long way towards embracing modern web technologies.  Due to the integration of UNIX into z/OS and the popularity of Linux on the z/VM hypervisor, TCP/IP has become a foundational technology of the zEcosystem.  This is demonstrated by companies such as Marriott making the zEnterpise the heart of their IT infrastructure by adopting a service oriented architecture tied to XML, web technologies, and custom APIs.  Although unimaginable during the era of the S/370 and the Systems Networking Architecture (SNA), companies are adopting APIs as a means to simplify and accelerate the integration of their mainframe and zEnterprise systems into web and mobile apps.  This has the potential to promote the use of the zEnterprise as an Infrastructure/Platform/Software as a Service solution accessible to developers through a standard API.

Even more interesting, it is possible that a private cloud on zEnterprise could follow the steps of Eucalyptus (a public cloud solution) and run an API that matched the syntax of an API stack such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or IBM’s SmartCloud.  Such a move would allow the instant portability of ubiquitous cloud-based front ends to a private mainframe clouds, potentially following in the footsteps of industry standard technologies (such as TCP/IP, UNIX, Linux, Java) to further open up and promote the mainframe as the centralized “system of systems” of a complex heterogeneous IT environment.  In the web development world, developers have benefited for quite some time from Google and Amazon’s simple yet powerful APIs.  I can’t help but wonder how similar tools could affect the deployment and utilization of the zEnterprise environment in the future.

I challenge you, dear readers, to consider how one could build and deploy an mainframe API that would provide the strengths of flexibility, inter-connectivity, and ease of use without compromising traditional strengths in security and efficiency.  Have you worked with APIs in the past?  Do you think that there is a role for such tools on the mainframe?  What sort of impact would the use of such tools have on the mainframe?  Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

Here are some interesting resources related to this idea:
Info on the IBM HTTP Server
Toys and Tools for z/OS UNIX System Services
Guide for Porting POSIX complaint Apps to z/OS UNIX System Services
PHP for z/OS Guide
IBM HTTP Server Cookbook
Porting Apache to z/OS
Coding AJAX Apps on z/OS
System Z APIs
tcACCESS

Happy COBOLing!

2 thoughts on “Big Iron on the Interwebz: APIs aren’t just for Google

  1. I’d like to see IBM offer some cloud services similar to what AWS is doing except runing on the zEnterprise platform. Some companies who grow usually hit a fork in the road at a certain size: do we keep running on AWS or do we bring it in-house. If IBM had their own cloud services available imagine if you decided you wanted to bring the tech in house, they could actually deliver your private cloud using your public settings and bill accordingly. How cool would that be?

    Reply

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