Command line zealots and green screen aficionados may be appalled, but it is now possible to manage z/OS from an Apple iPad using the ZEN management tools from Williams Data Systems. In the mainframe world, this has to be the ultimate cool. Check out the ZEN tools here.
The iPad made its z/OS management debut at SHARE in Boston this summer. With the iPad and ZEN you can perform System z network management anywhere you find a good WiFi connection; by the pool, from the golf course, even in the bathroom.
Although the mobility of the iPad management tool will appeal to mainframe staff traditionally shackled to beepers or who lug comparatively heavy laptops around, the real payoff may come from the ability to tap the rich touchscreen GUI of the iPad. DancingDinosaur has long encouraged vendors to adopt graphical interfaces for their mainframe management tools to speed the learning curve and boost staff productivity.
Other vendors have rolled out GUI-based management tools. CA even made GUI ease of use part of its multi-year Mainframe 2.0 initiative to upgrade its entire suite of mainframe tools. SEGUS has a GUI job scheduler that lets the operations staff manage schedules and dependencies graphically. Sure the command line interface can do almost anything and do it stunningly fast for those who have mastered it, but a GUI interface brings its own advantages.
With ZEN on the iPad, Williams Data is able to tap Apple’s already legendary touch screen interface for mainframe management. Pricing is the same as for other ZEN products, whether you use a 3270 terminal, PC, laptop, or iPad.
According to Graham Storey, Williams Data VP, the iPad version of ZEN installs and runs right on the mainframe. The company tweaked ZEN so remote admins can connect directly with ZEN simply by entering the URL to the mainframe. No need for any front end processor or Windows server. Admins can view and manage the mainframe network using the iPad’s browser to navigate to the mainframe. Once logged in securely, you work as you normally do except you have the advantages of the iPad touch screen. You actually can use any mobile device with a browser and an adequate touch screen. For serious work, however, the iPad’s size gives it a distinct advantage for now.
Buoyed by the enthusiasm exhibited at SHARE, Williams Data already is thinking beyond the iPad. Although Storey stops short of announcing anything, he implies that versions for the Blackberry, Android, and iPhone already are in the works.
Williams Data will be back in Boston in October at IBM’s System z Technical University. With luck DancingDinosaur can connect with some customers there who are eager to manage their System z from vacation spots, nice hotels, and especially Starbucks. Did you think that managing a System z would ever be cool?