Thursday, August 27, 2009

Putting a new face on z/OS

I borrowed the title of this post from an article on z/OS in a CCR2 newsletter dating from 2005. Oddly enough, that almost exactly matches the title of the announcement of z/OSMF : 'IBM z/OS Management Facility V1.11 -- A new face for z/OS (ZP09-0276)'. I can't resist to give you a quote from that article.
"z/OS users today must master an assortment of user interface (UI) styles: TSO command line, ISPF panels, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), even Web-style UIs. To complete a task such as applying service, they often must interact with different UIs while flipping through a variety of publications. That's today. On the horizon is a new z/OS management console that will be headquarter central for z/OS management tasks".
So, the goal was "to simplify and modernize z/OS management for 'zNextGen' - the new generation of IBM System z9 and eServer zSeries IT professionals" in order to "make life easier for z/OS novices and experts alike".

A year later we had the announcement of 'IBM's Five year march to Mainframe Simplification'. The goal was "to enable technology administrators and computer programmers to more easily program, manage and administer a mainframe system -- as well as to increasingly automate the development and deployment of applications for the mainframe environment". Areas on which to focus were automated configuration checking, modernizing the mainframe user interface, improving software asset management technologies and modernizing the mainframe's development environment with visual tools. If we look at these targets wen can definitely say that progress has been made. Look e.g. at the development environment. But there's still room for improvement.

So, now, here's z/OSMF (z/OS Management Facility). It's "a new product for z/OS that provides support for a modern, Web-browser based management console for z/OS (...) The z/OS Management Facility is intended to enable system programmers to more easily manage and administer a mainframe system by simplifying day to day operations and administration of a z/OS system. More than just a graphical user interface, the z/OS Management Facility is intelligent. Automated tasks can help reduce the learning curve and improve productivity". It surely offers some interesting features and is definitely worth trying out. An example ? "Tasks taking up to 20 minutes, such as collecting and sending dump data, can now take as little as 30 seconds (or 8 key clicks) with z/OS Management Facility". This looks impressive and as far as I've heard, it actually is.

Here's an image of the browser user interface :

Click on picture for larger view in new window

For the moment you see four functionalities on the tree menu on the left :
  • Configuration contains the Configuration Assistant task which provides a guided interface for configuring TCP/IP policy-based networking functions.
  • Problem Determination contains the Incident Log task which provides a consolidated list of problems, along with the details and the diagnostic data captured and saved with each problem. It also facilitates sending the diagnostic data for further diagnosis
  • Links contains links to sites for system management tools and information. Some initial useful links are provided
  • z/OSMF Administration contains administrative tasks that allow you to manage z/OSMF users, roles, and links
I took this from the latest z/OS Hot Topics Newsletter which has several introductory articles on z/OSMF. There's also a z/OSMF Web page and at the bottom of it you'll also find the Program Directory and the User's Guide.

Oh, and have I told you that it's completely free. It's sold as IPLA software with a cost of zero dollars and a yearly S&S of also zero dollars, which is pretty much the same in euro. So, there's absolutely no reason why you shouldn't give it a try !

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