Employing Containers for Native z/OS Applications

In the tech industry, not all news can be deemed as a genuine innovation. True innovation involves changes that create a significant impact, transform the current state of things, and introduce new concepts that bring about a new reality.

A great innovation that emerged was the implementation of Container technology, which offers the ability to move applications between various operating systems that run on X86 architecture, making it an incredibly valuable proposition. With the use of this technology, developers can now eliminate concerns regarding compatibility issues between different development and execution operating environments that an application may run on. The ability to detach the application and the developer from infrastructure issues is now possible. This empowers developers to have complete control in creating their own applications – a long-awaited desire that was once promised by Java but never materialized until now.

Containers were first developed in Google’s labs and gained global recognition once Docker adopted them. They revolutionized the architecture and application development landscape, surpassing the previously dominant virtual machine technology led by VMWARE. The entire market began to adopt container technology as a standard for applications. Soon after, container orchestration solutions led by Kubernetes (K8S) further solidified the technology with a second technological leap.

The IBM Mainframe platform has taken strategic measures to remain relevant amidst the rapidly evolving market. To expand its market share, the company has proactively sought new opportunities to bring in workloads to run on its z/OS operating environment. In 2017, they introduced the z Container Extension (zCX) functionality, which enables the simulation of a Linux environment running on z/OS and facilitates the running of native Linux applications in the Docker container model. The value proposition of zCX lies in its ability to facilitate co-location, thereby reducing latency between non-z/OS applications that interact with z/OS. This translates to improved response time, as well as the quality of service (QoS) and scalability that are synonymous with the Mainframe z/OS platform. Overall, the introduction of zCX represents a significant development that has added significant value to the Mainframe z/OS ecosystem.

In a second version called zCX for OpenShift, IBM brought the entire Red Hat OpenShift infrastructure into z/OS and thus started to support K8S with CRI-O Standard Containers, thus enabling companies that already have K8S infrastructure to bring these payloads into the Mainframe z/OS platform.

Companies now have the option of utilizing Docker and K8S containers on both x86 and Mainframe, z/OS, or z/Linux platforms thanks to the available solutions on the market. However, there is still a notable gap in the market for Container technology for native z/OS Mainframe applications, including CICS, IMS DB/DC, Db2, Batch, VSAM, and WMQ.

A new container solution for z/OS Native Applications was released in early 2023 by Eccox Technology. This technology enables companies to containerize their native z/OS applications and run them in complete isolation from other applications on the same operating infrastructure. The applications can be run under the identical sub-systems of the z/OS platform, including CICS, IMS, Db2, Jes, and more.

The use of containers for native z/OS applications has numerous advantages. One of the key benefits is the isolation of the application layer from the infrastructure layer that containers offer. Additionally, this approach leverages the mainframe architecture, which enables sharing of physical resources of the infrastructure among various business applications running on the same infrastructure. This modern technology facilitates the deployment of several applications in a containerized model within the same existing infrastructure (LPAR) and allows sharing between all the identical sub-systems (CICS, IMS, Db2, Jes).

A z/OS container is a storage location that holds programs and corresponding business application data. It allows for isolated execution without interference from other z/OS applications while still sharing the same infrastructure and subsystems. This ensures the smooth operation of multiple applications running concurrently.

Container technology for z/OS native applications enables a series of use cases that would be impossible to explore without it. Some of these are:

  • Automatic environment provisioning for integrated, functional, system, and QA tests.
  • Testing a new version of an application concurrently with the current version
  • Updated applications and tests running concurrently with the previous version.
  • Change the DB Schema under test before propagating it in the production environment.
  • Application relocation to another operating environment
  • Decommissioning of an application and its data for regulatory purposes

Numerous use cases are being discovered as companies adopt this technology and businesses make new requests for IT. These are just a few examples. It’s fortunate that modern advancements, such as Containers Technology for z/OS Native Applications, highlight the capabilities of the Mainframe platform and its worth to businesses. This enables companies to steer clear of unnecessary expenses outside the platform while still reaping its benefits.

Meet Daniel Raisch, an experienced Executive Enterprise Architect at Eccox Technology with over 25 years of expertise in the field. He holds certifications in AWS, AZURE, and IBM Mainframe and has dedicated the last five years to leading mainframe modernization and cloud migration projects. Daniel is revolutionizing the way his customers do business with Eccox Container Technology for z/OS Native Applications. With this cutting-edge technology, Eccox is empowering developers to create new and innovative solutions on the platform while also accelerating project timelines and providing a fresh value proposition for the Mainframe platform on its journey toward digital transformation and modernization. To learn more about this game-changing technology, visit https://www.eccoxapt.com/