Rocket Software’s z/SQL enables access to non-SQL mainframe data using standard SQL commands and queries. The company is offering a z/SQL free trial; you can install it no charge and get full access for as many users as you want. The only caveat, the free version is limited to three files. You can download the free trial here.
z/SQL will run SQL queries against any data source that speaks ANSI 92. “The tool won’t even know it is running relational data,” explained Gregg Willhoit, managing director of the Rocket Data Lab. That means you can run it against VSAM, IMS, Adabas, DB2 for z/OS, and physical sequential files. In addition, you can use z/SQL to make real-time SQL queries directly to mainframe programs, including CICS TS, IMS TM, CA IDMS, and Natural.
By diverting up to 99% of processing-intensive data mapping and transformation from the mainframe’s CPU to the zIIP, z/SQL lowers MIPS capacity usage and its associated costs, effectively reducing TCO. And, it opens up the zIIP to extend programs and systems of record data to the full range of environments noted above.
z/SQL’s ability to automatically detect the presence of the z’s zIIP assist processor allows it to apply its patent pending technology to further boost the zIIP’s performance advantages. The key attributes of the zIIP processor—low cost, speeds often greater than the speed of the mainframe engines (sub-capacity mainframe license), and its typical low utilization—are fully exploited by z/SQL for lowering a mainframe shop’s TCO while providing for an accelerated ROI.
Rocket z/SQL is built on Metal C, a z/OS compiler option that provides C-language extensions allowing you to specify assembly statements that call system services directly. The DRDA support and the ANSI 92 SQL engine have been developed using what amounts to a new language that allows even more of z/SQL’s work to continue to run on the zIIP. One of the key features in Metal C is allowing z/SQL to optimize its code paths for the hardware that it’s running on. So, no matter if you’re running on older z9 or z10 or the latest zEC12 and zBC12 processors, z/SQL chooses the code path most optimized for your hardware.
With z/SQL you can expand your System z analytics effort and push a wider range of mainframe data analytics to near real time. Plus, the usual ETL and all of its associated disadvantages are no longer a factor. As such z/SQL promises to be a disruptive technology that eliminates the need for ETL while pushing the analytics to where the data resides as opposed to ETL, which must bring the data to the analytics. The latter, noted Willhoit, is fraught with performance and data currency issues.
It’s not that you couldn’t access non-SQL data before z/SQL, but it was more cumbersome and slower. You would have to replicate data, often via FTP to something like Excel. Rocket, instead, relies on assembler to generate an optimized SQL engine for the z9, z10, z196, zEC12, and now the zBC12. With z/SQL the process is remarkably simple: no replication, no rewriting of code, just recompile. It generates the optimized assembler (so no assembler work required on your part).
Query performance, reportedly, is quite good. This is due, in part, because it is written in assembler, but also because it takes advantage of the z’s multi-threading. It reads the non-relational data source with one thread and uses a second thread to process the network I/O. This parallel I/O architecture for data promises game changing performance, especially for big data, through significant parallelism of network and database I/O. It also takes full advantage of the System z hardware by using buffer pools and large frames, essentially eliminating dynamic address translation.
z/SQL brings its own diagnostic capabilities, providing a real-time view into transaction threads with comprehensive trace/browse capabilities for diagnostics. It enables a single, integrated approach to identifying, diagnosing and correcting data connectivity issues between distributed ODBC, ADO.NET, and JDBC client drivers and mainframes. Similarly z/SQL provides dynamic load balancing and a virtual connection facility that reduces the possibility of application failures, improves application availability and performance, as well as supports virtually unlimited concurrent users and transaction rates, according to the company. Finally, it integrates with mainframe RACF, CA-TopSecret, and CA-ACF2 as well as SSL and client-side, certificate-based authentication on distributed platforms. z/SQL fully participates in the choreography of SSL between the application platform and the mainframe.
By accessing mainframe programs and data stored in an array of relational and non-relational formats z/SQL lets you leave mainframe data in place, on the z where it belongs, and avoids the cost and risk of replication or migration. z/SQL becomes another way to turn the z into an enterprise analytics server for both SQL and non-SQL data.
Rocket calls z/SQL the world’s most advanced mainframe access and integration software. A pretty bold statement that begs to be proven through data center experience. Test it in your data center for free. As noted above, you can download the free trial here. If you do, please let me know how it works out. (Promise it won’t be publicized here.)