Traditionally, IBM Mainframe system administrators must be very proficient at navigating and operating z/VM through the z/VM command line, knowing all the commands, understanding what operations and files are on every disc and learning how to create a new guest and allocate resources. All of which are intricate and difficult to learn with no prior experience. However, when I started working with our research z114 and zBladeCenter at the Marist/IBM Joint Studies, one thing took me by surprise: much of the operations of z/vm were now automated thanks to IBM’s new Unified Resource Manager.

The Unified Resource Manager (URM) also known as zManager is a new interface supported on the z196 and z114 mainframes. It provides the user with a single graphical view of every guest on the z/VM system through the Hardware Management Console. From this single screen an administrator can see the amount of processors allocated to it, the amount of memory and its current operating state.

(Above) The Graphical view of z/vm guests provided to the HMC by zManager.

zManager also provides complete graphical automation when a new guest server is to be spawned off. Creating a new virtual server is as easy as going through a few screens which prompts you for information such as the name, disk that is to be used, the workload, resources and network card/vLan settings. Once finished going through the steps, URM will automatically create the virtual server and it will appear along with the other guest operating systems. From this point, the server can be activated through the Hardware Management Console and you operate the server from z/VM by logging in and IPLing as usual. This replaces the complicated process of creating a new directory entry for the userid or going through dirMaint to create the server.

(Above) The Graphical confirmation screen for creating a new Guest Server with URM

zManager does not stop at managing z/VM, it also excels at managing zBladeCenter blades as well. Similar to z/VM, URM provides an overall view of the virtual servers on every blade and provides automation in creating and managing the virtual machines.

The Unified Resource Manager is a great step for IBM. The simplification of creating and managing guests on z/VM or blades makes it much easier for administrators who are new to system z to effectively operate the system. This is extremely valuable today because there are very few millennials graduating with any kind of mainframe experience, let alone z/VM. The system must be friendly to new users otherwise; when the current z/VM system administrators are gone there will be no one with the skills necessary to replace them.

Although complete automation is valuable when first starting off, it is very important for a new system z administrator to learn the inner workings of z/VM and understand exactly what is happening during the automated process. It is important not to be reliant on the easy automation because you will soon learn (just as I did), that there are many operations which you cannot just automate, and you must login to maint and do it yourself.

About the Author

Douglas Rohde
B.S Information Technology, Marist College (In Progress)

Doug is a National Science Foundation funded student intern Systems Administrator for Marist College’s research Mainframe. He has a passion for working in the System Z environment which he found not long after he began working with big iron on a daily basis. As a full-time student he hopes his coursework and work experience will ensure an easy transition into a career of mainframe administration in a production environment when he graduates in December. Connect with Doug on LinkedIn!

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