FREE! We all love that word, especially when it’s true. It’s true: there’s an amazing amount of wonderful, free stuff for mainframes that will probably surprise you. OK, admittedly nothing in life is truly free. You have to spend a little bit of effort implementing and exploiting this wonderful free stuff, and presumably your time isn’t always free. Lawyers like to say “no additional charge.” I’m not a lawyer.

As background, take a look at the 2013 Edition of this list. Most of the 2013 entries are still valid, but here are the updates and changes (only) for this 2016 Update….

Free Mainframes – Infrastructure as a Service

  • Would you like up to 120 days of free trial access to a real IBM LinuxONE mainframe with your choice of Linux distributions? Try the LinuxONE Community Cloud.
  • IBM offers the Enterprise DevOps for z Systems cloud-based trial, powered by the IBM Rational Development and Test Environment for z Systems. You can test drive IBM’s excellent development tools for z/OS on z/OS for up to 15 days at no charge. Yes, with access to real z/OS, CICS Transaction Server, DB2, IMS, etc.
  • IBM’s Master the Mainframe contest site moved here.
  • Connor Krukosky installed a real IBM z890 mainframe in his parents’ basement for a grand total cash outlay of about $350. OK, that’s only almost free, but if he could do it, why not you?

Free Mainframes – Platform as a Service

  • IBM offers a zero installation trial of its Automatic Binary Optimizer for z/OS product at https://optimizer.mybluemix.net. Simply upload a COBOL module compiled with Enterprise COBOL Version 3 or Version 4, and IBM’s cloud-based ABO returns an ABO-optimized module, ready for testing and performance evaluation. If you like the results, you can order the 90-day ABO Trial Edition (IBM Program Number 5697-TR1), also at no additional charge. IBM offers some other no charge trial licenses, for example Enterprise COBOL Version 6 (5655-TY6).
  • Are you developing an amazing application that takes advantage of Blockchain shared ledger technologies? Try IBM’s unique High Security Blockchain environment, running on real IBM LinuxONE servers. (Because if you don’t have strong security to protect access to your Blockchain, what’s the point?) At this writing the trial link is here, and free access is available to practically anybody with an interesting application. But if that link doesn’t work, start with this one instead.

Free Mainframe Operating Systems

  • Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux Server for LinuxONE and z Systems is available for download at no charge. If you want to run Ubuntu Server in production you’ll want to contact Canonical to sign up for a support agreement. (It’s the same story with other Linux distributors listed below.)
  • The MUSIC/SP operating system is available for download. In principle you could transfer MUSIC/SP to an IBM mainframe and run it there (probably under z/VM), but take a look at the license terms first to make sure you have (or, if necessary, obtain) permission.
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for z Systems is available here, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux for z Systems is available here.
  • Sine Nomine Associates offers ClefOS for z Systems, a Linux distribution that tracks CentOS.

IBM Freebies for IBM Operating Systems

  • Don’t forget to look within your licensed software products for free gems. For example, z/OS Version 2.2 (and higher, presumably) includes the IBM Knowledge Center for z/OS at no additional charge. The Knowledge Center for z/OS hosts documentation directly on/from your mainframe. You can access that documentation using any standard Web browser, even from a mobile device or tablet. You don’t need any browser plug-ins or emulation software. You can customize and log user access to documentation if you wish, and you won’t need to worry about accessing Internet-based documentation or maintaining current documentation on PCs. That helps simplify disaster recovery procedures. The PC-based IBM Softcopy Librarian, also free, is the tool that uploads and maintains documentation in the Knowledge Center.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice to tap into a RESTful/JSON interface from any z/OS-hosted application you write (or enhance), even from a batch application? To send a text message through Twilio, check the shipment status of a package, or lookup geospatial coordinates using a Google Maps API, as examples? Now you can, and it’s free. The IBM Client Web Enablement Toolkit for z/OS is included with z/OS 2.2 and available for z/OS 2.1 at no additional charge. The IBM Client Web Enablement Toolkit provides both JSON parsing and HTTP/HTTPS protocol support (HTTPS recommended).
  • Other examples of free components within licensed software products include z/OS Connect (provided with the latest releases of CICS Transaction Server for z/OS and IMS Transaction Manager, as examples) and WebSphere Liberty Profile (in CICS Transaction Server and WebSphere Application Server for z/OS).
  • IBM’s CICS SupportPacs provide a wide range of useful add-ons to CICS Transaction Server. One of my favorites is SupportPac CA1Y, an add-on that provides interfaces to send and even receive e-mails directly within CICS Transaction Server.
  • Similarly, IBM offers several handy WebSphere MQ SupportPacs.

Other Freebies (Mostly for z/OS)

I’m sure I missed many mainframe freebies that are not listed in either the 2013 Edition or this 2016 Update. Please post your favorites in the comments.

Nahuel Tori

(Nahuel Tori está en el extremo derecho)

English version

Unos días antes de Navidad…

Me llegó un mail de IBM anunciando los resultados del concurso Master the Mainframe Sudamérica 2012. Con mucha ansiedad abrí el mail, y recibí la grata sorpresa de que había terminado en el primer puesto. Realmente no lo esperaba, ya que fue un concurso con muchas tareas desafiantes, y una gran cantidad de participantes de toda latinoamérica.
El día de la entrega de premios en el edificio de IBM, también me sorprendí al encontrarme con algunos conocidos: el segundo lugar en fue para un compañero de la facultad de Ingeniería de la UBA, al cual había invitado al concurso y charlamos al inscribirnos. También me encontré con otro conocido, un ex-compañero de trabajo, quien estudia en la UTN. El mundo de sistemas es muy chico, y más todavía el de Mainframe: uno siempre se vuelve a encontrar con viejos compañeros.

El tratamiento “VIP”

El premio por obtener el primer lugar, consistía en un viaje a la planta de IBM en Poughkeepsie, el cual estuvo estupendo. La planta es enorme, como una mini ciudad, que posee instalaciones donde se fabrican integralmente todos los equipos: desde la confección de los circuitos y ensamble, hasta el testeo, puesta a punto y envío a los clientes. Lo que más me asombró de toda la instalación, es el aprovechamiento que realizan del agua fría del río Hudson: a través de tuberías se ingresa el agua fría a las instalaciones, la cual se utiliza para refrigerar todo tipo de equipos e instalaciones: funcionamiento de los mainframes, servidores y un Green Data Center. Pude apreciar que todos los edificios contaban con cañerías con agua fría a disposición, y debajo de todos los pisos flotantes había conexiones de agua para conectar directamente a los equipos. Es de resaltar que esta utilización del agua es totalmente ecológica, ya que es devuelta al río sin ninguna alteración ni modificación, apenas unos grados de diferencia de temperatura. Y además permite ahorrar mucha electricidad en equipos de refrigeración.

Los otros ganadores

En Poughkeepsie me encontré con los ganadores del concurso de otros países: los tres primeros puestos de EEUU y Canadá, y el ganador de España. Quiero destacar también la gran hospitalidad y amabilidad de todos los empleados de IBM con que nos recibieron a los ganadores, quienes dedicaron dos días a enseñarnos y contarnos sus tareas en la planta, y charlar con nosotros sobre la tecnología actual y todas las dudas que tuviésemos sobre lo que hacen.
Creo que fue una experiencia muy enriquecedora tanto para mi carrera profesional como para mi vida, ya que pude conocer a muchas personas importantes e interesantes de la industria y sus profesiones, a la vez que compartir su cultura y ofrecer un poco de la propia.

 

Muchas gracias por la oportunidad, y hasta el próximo encuentro!

 
 

Nahuel Tori

(Nahuel Tori, Argentina far right)

Versión española

A few days before Christmas…

I got an email announcing the results IBM Master the Mainframe Contest South America 2012.  With much anxiety I opened the mail , and I received the pleasant surprise that I was in the first place .  I really did not expect it , as it was a competition with many challenging tasks , and a large number of participants from throughout Latin America .

The day of the awards ceremony in the IBM building, I was also surprised to meet some acquaintances : the second place went to a fellow of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Buenos Aires , whom he had invited to the contest and talked to enroll.  I also met by another acquaintance , a former co-worker, who studies at NTU.  The world is very small, and even more so the Mainframe : you always reconnects with old friends .

VIP Treatment

The prize for getting first place , was on a trip to the IBM plant in Poughkeepsie , which was great.  The plant is huge, like a mini city, with facilities that manufacture integrally all the teams: from the manufacture of circuits and assembly; testing; commissioning; and delivery to customers.

What amazed me about the entire system is using cold water from the Hudson River.  Cold water enters through pipes throughout the facility cooling all kinds of equipment and facilities : operation mainframes, servers and Green Data Center.  I could see that all buildings had cold water pipes on hand, and under all floating floors had water connections to connect directly to computers.  It is noteworthy that this water is completely organic, as it is returned to the river without any alteration or modification, only a few degrees difference in temperature.  And it saves a lot of electricity on refrigeration equipment.

The Other Winners

In Poughkeepsie I found the winners from other countries : the top three U.S. and Canada , and the winner of Spain.  I noted also the great hospitality and friendliness of all IBM employees that greeted the winners, who devoted two days to teach us and tell us your tasks on the ground, and chat with us about current technology and all the doubts that we had about what they do .

I think it was a very enriching experience both for my career and for my life, since I was able to meet many interesting and important people in the industry and the professions, while sharing their culture and offer some of their own.

Thank you very much for the opportunity , and until we meet again !