This is the third article of a four-part series addressing Db2 for z/OS and modern development utilizing an Agile methodology and DevOps processes. To read the other three articles please follow these links:
There has undoubtedly been substantial confusion concerning the various IBM software products that provide mainframe connectivity for web applications, what they do, what they cost, and what needs are they trying to serve. These include, but are not limited to; z/OSMF, z/OS Connect, Zowe (not IBM software, but open-source software that runs on z/OS), CICS Transaction Gateway, and now The IBM Unified Management Server for z/OS. Are all these servers related? No, they are not! Can some of the functionality of these servers overlap? Perhaps, but that is not the focus here. The question to be answered is what is the IBM Unified Management Server (UMS) and what benefits can be derived from installing it on a z/OS system?
Before we can talk about the UMS there needs to be a discussion about Zowe because UMS is a Zowe application, and IBM z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF) because Zowe depends on z/OSMF for interaction with some z/OS system .
For many years there existed, and still exists, Unix and Linux capabilities available on zSeries mainframes. First, there is Unix System Services (USS), which is part of the z/OS operating system and offers a POSIX shell over a z/OS address space. This offers a UNIX like shell interface, as well as an API. Second, there is zLinux, which is the Linux operating system compiled to run on IBM zSeries mainframes. This enables IBM customers to utilize the Linux operating system on the mainframe, which offers an elevated degree of processing power.
Zowe is neither USS nor zLinux but is an open-source framework that provides solutions which allow development and operations teams to securely manage, control, script and develop on the mainframe in a similar fashion to any other cloud platform. Zowe was introduced in February of 2019 by the Open Mainframe Project, which initially consisted of IBM, Computer Associates (now Broadcom), and Rocket Software. The Open Mainframe Project is bigger than Zowe. IBM, CA, and Rocket were the original contributors for Zowe. The Open Mainframe Project encompasses other projects and is part of the Linux Foundation. Zowe is not owned by IBM but managed by the Linux Foundation and contributors are now numerous. Zowe’s purpose is to narrow the skills gap between new and legacy z/OS developers by offering access to z/OS resources via command line interface, a web browser desktop, or via REST APIs. There is even a Visual Studio Code (VSCode) extension that offers a Zowe Explorer, and several other VSCode extensions that work with the Zowe Explorer. Basically, it allows information technology professionals access to mainframe resources without having specific mainframe skills.
Zowe offers interoperability with many modern software tools that are familiar to application developers. z/OSMF provides a web-based interface for many z/OS system related functions, and is highly recommended with a Zowe installation. Zowe comes with a web user interface that provides a virtual desktop containing several applications (also called apps) that provide access to z/OS functions. This includes a 3270 terminal emulator, a JES explorer, an MVS dataset editor, and much more. Zowe also provides an ever-growing range of APIs and software development kits to work with a variety of z/OS services and application development software products. The Zowe application framework includes RESTful web services that enables a lot of z/OS functionality via REST calls. It should be emphasized that Zowe offers a zero-client installation platform. For all the customer complaints about Data Studio or DSM deployment issues, this is the opposite. All that is needed is the web browser to use the platform and all the Zowe functionality.
There is also a Zowe CLI client interface that can be installed on client machines. This means that other software tools, such as Jenkins, critical to the DevOps process and customized by a DevOps Engineer, can called RESTful services via the Zowe CLI to perform mainframe functions, such as managing batch jobs! Many z/OS Extensions for VSCode rely on the Zowe CLI and provide significant user functionality from a free desktop application.
The IBM Unified Management Server
The IBM Unified Management Server (UMS) is a separate piece of software that plugs into Zowe to support common data management functions of and Db2 subsystems on z/OS. This enables the functionality of data management products, such as The Db2 Administration Foundation (free offering), The IBM Db2 DevOps Experience, and The IBM Unified Experience for z/OS, along with others to come. The UMS consists of a library of common REST APIs that perform services such as discovering and registering Db2 subsystems. These REST APIs are documented via Swagger (an interactive description language describing RESTful APIs) so that DevOps Engineers can code Zowe CLI calls to these services for data and application related z/OS functionality. The IBM DevOps experience plugs into the UMS to extend the services provided withing The IBM Unified Experience user-interface and provides additional REST APIs to support DevOps operations that include Db2 for z/OS. UMS also provides for web-based functionality via the Zowe web user interface. The IBM DevOps Experience and Db2 Administration Foundation therefore extends the user-interfaces that simply “add on” within the UMS, providing a seamlessly integrated data management experience.
The IBM Unified Management Experience
The IBM Unified Management Experience is a browser-based user interface that is built on top of the open-source Zowe virtual Desktop. This offers one seamless intuitive interface for all data management software that is installed on z/OS, which includes and Db2 for z/OS. Additional software products, such as Db2 Administration Foundation and IBM Db2 DevOps Experience, can be installed and will be seamlessly integrated into the IBM Unified Management Experience.
Db2 Administration Foundation
The IBM Db2 Administration Foundation for z/OS is a free tool that features a no-client install. It essentially plugs into Zowe and UMS and is intended to be a partial replacement for IBM Data Management Studio or IBM Data Management Server. It provides a browser-based interface that seamlessly integrates with other data management software available within UMS. Db2 Administration Foundation offers capabilities that are useful to Database Administrators and Application Administrators, such as:
- Graphical exploration of an entire sysplex to retrieve Db2 assets in an easy-to-read format
- An object-detail dashboard that provides information and details
- SQL, DSN, and Db2 command editors and execution interface
The database management features that are available in IBM Data Studio should eventually be incorporated into Db2 Administration Foundation for z/OS, with the application development features of IBM Data Studio incorporated into the IBM Db2 for z/OS Developer Extension to VSCode. For more information about the IBM Db2 for z/OS Developer Extension to VSCode please visit this blog post.
IBM Db2 DevOps Experience for z/OS
The IBM Db2 DevOps Experience for z/OS (DOE) is a purpose-built z/OS solution, enabling Db2 for z/OS to be a first-class participant within the fast release cycles of your organization. DOE extends Infrastructure-as-a-Service to Db2 by delivering Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS). DBaaS elevates the Application Developer and liberates the Database Administrator.
- Application Developers are elevated by providing them the Db2 for z/OS resources they need, when they need them; and by enabling the Application Developer to make database modifications when the changes are needed.
- The Database Administrator is liberated to perform higher value work (production maintenance, performance monitoring and tuning, application compatibility management, etc.) for the enterprise by allowing DOE to perform automatable tasks, by teaching DOE to validate database changes in real time, and by using DOE to highlight changes for approval by the Data Administrator and/or Database Administrator at the right time in the sprint cycle.
Again, DOE is a software tool that plugs into Zowe and UMS to enable DevOps processes for Db2 for z/OS databases and applications in a browser-based interface that integrates into all the other data management offerings under UMS. Workstation and server software can be used to enable DOE functionality via REST services, which is especially important for the DevOps Engineer and various CI/CD automation.
In the final article of this four-part series will go into more detail about the IBM Db2 DevOps Experience for z/OS and how enterprises can utilize this software to facilitate DevOps processes to support application development on a Db2 for z/OS database.