Consider it a kinder, gentler System z. Last week CA, introduced a three-year initiative dubbed Mainframe 2.0 to make System z software simpler and easier to install, deploy, and manage.
Mainframe 2.0 is intended to address the expected retirements of many veteran System z staffers. At the same time mainframe workloads are increasing based on MIPS shipped, a roughly 20% compound annual growth rate, CA reports.
CA’s initiative is aimed a wooing young computer science students to the mainframe by providing a consistent GUI front end comparable to what they experience with Linux, Java, and .Net tools along with increasingly automated wizard-driven tools. In the past, saying the words GUI and mainframe in one breath seemed an oxymoron. Lately, however, I’ve been writing more about GUIs in regard to System z. Watch for my piece on System z GUI tools in an upcoming issue of z/Journal.
CA has been adding GUI front ends to some of its management tools for awhile. Its Mainframe 2.0 initiative goes further in terms of scope by upgrading 143 CA mainframe management applications. Here’s the announcement. The primary goal is to speed the acquisition and implementation of CA software on the z/OS platform; making the System z easier for mainframe newbies is a coincidental byproduct.
Aggravating the System z skills issue is the economic downturn, which is forcing management to require IT to do more with less. CA’s response is Mainframe 2.0, intended to “radically simplify the governance, management, and security of IBM’s z/OS platform.” No surprise here; IBM has had its own five-year mainframe simplification initiative.
What’s different about the CA effort is its scope and speed. The CA roadmap shows an accelerated three-year release schedule.
- 2009—some functionality, mainly simplified acquisition and installation, will arrive in the coming months
- 2010—cross product interoperability as well as tighter out-of-the-box integrations
- 2011—the sexiest stuff, a wizard-driven configuration manager and dynamic configuration adjustments based on real-time Health Checks
CA promises to deliver a synchronized release stack of 45 mainframe applications (part of the 143 applications being upgraded). Synchronization standardizes installation, planning, and implementation cycles for easier deployment. As part of the Mainframe 2.0 effort, CA also is including over 100 Health Checks, which exploit and automate IBM Health Checker functions.
The mainframe needs simplification. Almost all mainframe management ISVs, from small players like SEGUS to IBM, BMC, and CA, have long offered GUIs with some of their mainframe management tools. Going forward, expect to see vendors adding GUIs and wizards to most System z tools.
System z simplification is critical if IT managers are to do more with less. GUI-based, wizard-driven tools speed the work and shorten the learning curve. When administrators can manage multiple applications without having to master multiple tools, each with its own logic, look, and feel they can cover more ground faster and more efficiently, thereby enabling the data center to actually do more with less.