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​Zowe! Bringing the mainframe to the open-source world

Linux has run on mainframes for decades. Now IBM and partners are enabling users to access z/OS using a new open-source framework, Zowe.

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IBM was the first major computer power to embrace Linux. Now, decades later, they along with their partners, CA Technologies and Rocket Software, have announced Zowe, a new open-source software framework that bridges the divide between modern applications and the mainframe, at Open Source Summit in Vancouver, Canada.

Zowe is meant to provide interoperability and scalability between products. It's also, IBM states, the first z/OS, the IBM mainframe operating system, open-source program.

Zowe has four components. These are:

  • Zowe APIs: z/OS has a set of Representational State Transfer (REST) operating system APIs. These are made available by the z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF). Zowe uses these REST APIs to submit jobs, work with the Job Entry Subsystem (JES) queue, and manipulate data sets. Zowe Explorers are visual representations of these APIs that are wrapped in the Zowe web UI application. Zowe Explorers create an extensible z/OS framework that provides new z/OS REST services to enterprise tools and DevOps processes.
  • Zowe API Mediation Layer: The Zowe API mediation layer has several key components:
    • API Gateway is built using Netflix Zuul and Spring Boot technology to forward API requests to the appropriate corresponding service through the microservice endpoint UI.
    • Discovery Service is built on Eureka and Spring Boot technology and acts as the central point in the API Gateway that accepts announcements of REST services, and is a repository for active services.
    • API Catalog -- publishes APIs and their associated documentation that are discoverable from the service catalog. A service can be implemented by one or more service instances, which provides the same service for high-availability or scalability.
  • Zowe Web UI: Named zLUX, the web UI modernizes and simplifies working on the mainframe and allows the user to create applications that suit specific needs. The UI works with the underlying REST APIs for data, jobs, and subsystems, and presents the information in a full-screen mode compared to the command-line interface. This is a native and extensible z/OS web user interface that provides a unifying user experience where different applications in the Zowe web UI can work together and provide launch in context to provide a fast path to additional information.
  • Zowe Command Line Interface: The CLI allows users to interact with z/OS from a variety of other platforms, such as cloud or distributed systems, to submit jobs, issue Time Sharing Option (TSO) and z/OS console commands, integrate z/OS actions into scripts, and produce responses as JSON documents. With this extensible and scriptable interface, you can tie in mainframes to distributed DevOps pipelines and build in automation.

The point of all this is to enable developers to manage, control, script, and develop on the mainframe like any other cloud platform. Additionally, Zowe enables teams to use the familiar, industry-standard, open-source tools they already know to access mainframe resources and services.

The mainframe may be older than many of the programmers Zowe hopes to attract, but is still a mission-critical platform. With Zowe, new possibilities are opening for next generation applications. "We are excited to participate with the OMP and Zowe community members to streamline the development process for applications leveraging the platform," said Greg Lotko, CA Technologies Mainframe general manager, in a statement.

Barry Baker, IBM vice president of Z Software, added, "This strategic collaboration enables clients that rely on the mainframe for running their core business to simplify and speed application development, deployment, and operations on z/OS. This initiative brings together industry experts to drive innovation for the community of next-generation mainframe developers that are new to the platform."

All of Zowe's code will be made available under the open-source Eclipse Public License 2.0. It's hosted by the The Linux Foundation's Open Mainframe Project.

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