z/OS is IBM’s flagship operating system for its mission critical z System enterprise servers. Earlier this week IBM lifted the veil on the upcoming z/OS 2.3 release, with general availability planned for September, 2017. IBM’s Early Support Program is potentially available to those z/OS licensees who can’t wait that long. (Ask “your friendly IBM representative” if you’d like to join the ESP.) The preview announcement is chock full of interesting new features. I am particularly interested in these items:

  • z/OS 2.3 will require an IBM zEC12, zBC12, or higher model machine. That’s a fairly aggressive leap forward, but in my view it’s a sensible one. Setting a higher baseline means that z/OS can do more to exploit newer instructions and other newer model features.
  • z/OS and its predecessor, OS/390, have included encryption services for decades, but this release makes encryption of data sets, zFS, and CF structures much easier to implement because there’s no need to change applications.
  • Communications Server will incorporate a network security “sanity check” (my term) feature, to warn administrators if they’re not being at least reasonably careful to encrypt network connections. (Philip Young might appreciate this new feature.)
  • z/OSMF will support a standard software installation package for z/OS, based on some recent vendor consensus. Consequently z/OSMF will support both SMP/E and non-SMP/E (but also standard) software installation.
  • z/OSMF will integrate the z/OS incident log with IBM’s support database to find likely APARs (fixes or documented workarounds) automatically.
  • XML System Services will use 64-bit address spaces, to handle larger XML documents.
  • Eight character TSO/E user IDs!
  • IBM Knowledge Center for z/OS will include a message lookup feature.
  • The Sub-Capacity Reporting Tool (SCRT) is moving into the base operating system, and IBM is opening it up to software vendors.
  • Workload Manager will have a “maximum zIIP” control (my term) that can be applied to particular service classes. WLM will require all zIIP-eligible work within these controlled service classes to execute only on zIIPs, never on general purpose engines.
  • Online migration of HFS to zFS, and online repair of zFS. (IBM expects that the z/OS release after Version 2.3 will be the last to support HFS.)
  • RACF user ID to e-mail conversion and mapping.
  • JES2 job notifications and z/OSMF event notifications via e-mail.
  • Although z/OS 2.3 will still be available on tape media, IBM says it’ll discontinue tape media deliveries of z/OS and related products in the future. Electronic delivery (Internet downloads) and DVD media will continue to be available.

IBM has a particularly big load of Big Data-related announcements this week (the first full week of October, 2015). It seems like a great time to take stock of what IBM has been up to lately.

  • IBM is unveiling Version 5.1 of the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) with new in-database analytics, in-database transformation, and accelerator-only tables. There’s literally nothing else like IDAA and its marriage of the world’s best, most secure Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) database with state-of-the-art, real-time analytics, warehousing, and business intelligence in a single, integrated information system. I literally don’t know of anybody who isn’t thrilled with their IDAA since it’s so thoroughly democratizing real-time, every-time analytics all the way out to end-users and mobile devices. This might be IBM’s biggest “killer app,” so do check it out.
  • Is DB2 12 here already? Almost. Yes, IBM is previewing its latest version of the flagship DB2 for z/OS. Among my favorite new features, DB2 12 will significantly improve its in-memory database capabilities and take more advantage of those many terabytes of system memory in the IBM z13 machines. There’s a great deal of emphasis on improved cloud provisioning capabilities including “SQL as a Service” (SQLaaS) RESTful interfaces. The new SQL TRANSFER OWNERSHIP statement is intriguing and mighty useful for maintaining security control over sensitive data. (And what isn’t sensitive data?) The efficiency improvements look unusually impressive, too, with IBM tossing out some bigger numbers than I’ve seen before. This’ll be a version you’ll have even more reason to get onto as quickly as possible even if only to pick up the efficiency gains, though you will likely have to allocate some more memory — an excellent trade to make. (Over-economizing on memory is false economy and a very bad idea.) If you’re interested in getting an early start on DB2 12 then IBM is putting out the call to sign up for the Early Support Program (ESP).
  • Version 8.8 of IBM’s Operational Decision Manager should be generally available in a couple months. Not only is this version particularly lucky in China, it’s particularly useful everywhere for its new “Decision Server Insights” feature that helps improve ODM’s ability to make snap decisions based on even complex rules and events. ODM for z/OS at least starts to imbue new, emerging cognitive computing and analytic capabilities into enterprise transactions and concurrent batch flows. As before it’s also a powerful, high performance way to cut down on application maintenance and, again, to democratize what used to be traditional application development. ODM is available for several platforms, but it’s an exceptionally strong fit with unique run-time benefits on z/OS and on Linux on z.
  • CICS Transaction Server Version 5.3 for z/OS is particularly notable for its new and enhanced cloud services capabilities, and the Java-related improvements are also impressive. No matter what programming languages you prefer — or non-programming approaches to building solutions — CICS TS probably has you covered and covered extremely well.
  • IMS Version 14 becomes generally available later this month, and (in particular) it includes several improvements that help assure continuous business service in what are among the most critical business and government systems in the world.
  • z/VSE users, this is your week, too: a new version of z/VSE and of CICS Transaction Server for z/VSE, both with lots of useful improvements. As before, I recommend pairing your z/VSE environments with Linux on z and/or z/OS to tap into those solution portfolios too, and IBM has a lot of options built into z/VSE to help you do that cost effectively.

To read up on these and other IBM announcements, visit IBM’s announcements Web site at http://www.ibm.com/common/ssi.

Posted in IBM.

In my previous post I suggested that I was still thinking about reasonable use cases for Unicode 8.0 on z/OS. I’ve got some ideas now. Here are a few:

1. It will be quite some time before all Web and mobile devices will support all the glyphs in the Unicode 8.0. One useful option is to use Unicode 8.0 font support on z/OS to render a graphical representation of an unsupported glyph (such as a new emoji character) and deliver that graphical rendering to a client device. That substitution approach works beautifully in WebSphere Liberty Profile for z/OS and WebSphere Application Server for z/OS, as examples.

2. Likewise, you can take the same approach when generating billing statements, financial statements, etc. (whether printed or, increasingly, electronic) processed on z/OS. Yes, your monthly bank statement can include new Unicode 8.0 emoji characters, for example.

3. Both of the approaches above can be combined with a persistent BLOB datastore, specifically DB2 for z/OS, so that graphical representations of new characters can be generated once and persisted for better performance and throughput.