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IBM upgrades z/OS mainframe operating system

Mark Fontecchio

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For more on mainframe z/OS:
IBM upgrades z/OS; makes $100M commitment to mainframe

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IBM z/OS 1.8: Features to look forward to and some to kiss goodbye 
SAN DIEGO -- Today, IBM Corp. introduced the latest version of z/OS, a mainframe operating system, which improves software scalability and makes it easier to port Unix applications to big iron.

The new release, z/OS V1.9, will be generally available on Sept. 28. It will run only on the zSeries (800, 890, 900, 990) and z9 (Business Class and Enterprise Class) servers, and will be released around the same time that z/OS 1.6 support from IBM concludes. IBM made the announcement on Wednesday, Aug. 15, during the Share user group conference in San Diego.

Some features of the z/OS 1.9 release include the following:

  • The ability for a logical partition within the mainframe to span 54 processors (including central processors as well as specialty processors such as the IFL, zAAP and zIIP). With prior releases, z/OS only allowed a partition to span 32 processors. As the mainframe has grown, so has its hardware capacity, all the way up to 54 total processors on the z9 Enterprise Class server.
  • Improvements to z/OS Unix System Services to help users port Unix applications onto the mainframe. Unix System Services allows users to run Unix on the mainframe; with z/OS 1.9, IBM has enhanced some z/OS Unix commands to help the porting of Unix apps to the mainframe.
  • Adoption of RSA Security Inc.'s Public-Key Cryptography Standard (PKCS) #11, which details a proper application programming interface (API) for security hardware devices that help a user log on to a system.
  • A way to set network security policy consistently among z/OS instances and for distributed systems that need to communicate with z/OS servers.
Flexibility, scalability, security
Susan Eustis, president and co-founder of WinterGreen Research Inc., an IT research firm in Lexington, Mass., said the ability to use more processors in a single partition enables increased flexibility and helps the mainframe to be more cost competitive by allowing for greater productivity per partition. She added that the security features for any z/OS release are key to keeping the mainframe operating system ahead of Unix, Linux and Windows operating systems on distributed platforms.

"Because z/OS has been around for so long, the [Resource Access Control Facility] and overall mainframe security are really quite impressive," she said. "It's in part because it's been around for a while, but also a centralized computing environment is inherently more secure. It's better than a bunch of boxes spread out all over the place with a bunch of entry points."

As for enhancements to z/OS Unix System Services, Eustis said that when companies migrate to a big iron hardware platform, they tend to just run Unix on the mainframe rather than porting applications.

"Some of them are porting them to z, but it's far more frequent that they'll run Unix on z, and then when they have new builds, they'll bring them up on z/OS," she said.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.


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