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There's a new way to connect to business critical assets from the cloud of your choice using APIs

By Kate Bittles posted Wed August 24, 2022 11:41 AM

Did you know that it’s now possible to securely connect your applications to business-critical zSystems assets from the cloud of your choice?

If you’re an application developer in an organization that has invested in the mainframe, you might be familiar with the challenges of responding to business requirements that demand access to the core assets hosted there.

Each organisation is different, of course, but these systems are often managed by a separate IT team and (understandably) locked down. Older, unmodernised applications might also require additional skills or modifications in order to properly integrate with the rest of the organisation's business logic.

However, IBM z/OS Connect allows users to map between these core applications and RESTful APIs. It allows developers writing in whatever language they’re comfortable with to interact with back-end environments.

z/OS Connect has seen considerable success in helping with zSystems modernization. Recent enhancements including a brand new deployment model that means you can host the server component - the piece that catches the API invocations and routes them through to the relevant backend service - on distributed AMD64 environments. This means that you can run completely from your cloud provider of choice, whether that's AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud, or your own data center. Of course, if you prefer you can run the server directly on zSystems to keep your integration logic right next to your data.

Accessing key assets this way empowers application developers to access core business data and services without making specific changes to the back-end. z/OS Connect uses standard zSystems interfaces and inherits all the standard security, availability and reliability characteristics of the mainframe, which means that the security of the back-end is not compromised.

As an application developer, your interaction with these core business applications takes place using a set of RESTful PUT, GET, POST, DELETE-style verbs and is expressed using standard OpenAPI 3 documents. Each request is sent to the z/OS Connect server's host and port, with a pathname that identifies the application and a JSON payload that contains any user data needed as input. The data is mapped using JSONata, a powerful query and transformation language, to the correct target format before being sent. Similarly, the response comes via the z/OS Connect server and contains a JSON payload that is the mapped output from the back-end. This mapping between the requests and responses and the target backend service is defined upfront using the intuitive z/OS Connect Designer tool. - https://jsonata.org/

So if you're an application developer for an organisation who has invested in zSystems and fancy giving all this a go, it's really easy to get started. If you have a container environment installed on your machine you can pull the z/OS Connect Designer directly; for example, using Docker or Docker desktop you can run:
docker run -it -p 9080:9080 -v $PWD:/workspace/project icr.io/zosconnect/ibm-zcon-designer:3.0.59
(The latest version is 3.0.59. You can check out the latest version by looking at the release notes. If using Podman simply replace “docker’ with “podman”.)
For a full tutorial and a closer look at how z/OS Connect works, take a look here: https://www.ibm.com/docs/en/zos-connect/zos-connect/3.0?topic=getting-started-tutorials.