z/VSE is used by customers in a range of sizes, in most major industries, in every major geography. The z/VSE strategy is designed to help customers introduce competitive new IT solutions at low cost, low risk, and fast time-to-market. The key to achieving these objectives is helping customer leverage their existing investments in core z/VSE applications and data.
The basic z/VSE strategy is as simple as PIE:
Many z/VSE customers have an enormous cumulative investment in their core z/VSE applications.
Core applications are defined as those that are expected to meet their business objectives now, and for the foreseeable future. Written ‘in-house’, or purchased from a vendor, they are often robust, highly evolved, and carefully tailored to meet the unique needs of a specific company and a specific business model. With normal maintenance and enhancements, core applications will continue to provide value well into the future. Clearly, not every existing application is a core application. Nevertheless, for many customers, significant portions of their z/VSE application portfolio meet the definition.
The extensive customer investment in core z/VSE applications includes designing, creating, and testing code. It includes collecting associated data and installing required equipment. The investment also includes specialized IT skills and related experience. These investments also extend to basic business processes and end-user training.
Replacing a core application may expose customers to unnecessary costs and risks. Therefore, all else being equal, many customers prefer to retain their core applications. Unless an application must be replaced for legitimate business reasons, it is often better to spend scarce resources addressing new problems, not reinventing solutions to problems that have already been solved.
z/VSE helps protect existing customer investments in three ways.
- The design and quality of enhancements should minimize the potential for disruption. We try to design z/VSE improvements in ways that minimize changes to existing customer applications. As part of this commitment, the team works closely with ISVs to help ensure changes required for vendor products are minimized as well.
- Whenever requirements are identified, we attempt to solve them in a way that is as close to the z/OS implementation as is reasonable. z/OS affinity helps to share quality capabilities with z/VSE users. It helps ensure ISVs have the widest possible IBM System z opportunity. z/OS affinity helps ease the transition for z/VSE customers who chose to migrate to z/OS.
- Timely hardware support helps enable z/VSE customers grow and exploit innovative IBM technology. For example, IBM System z 10 BC features include FICON Express4, Fiber Channel Protocol (FCP-SCSI), OSA Express3, Crypto Express2, CPACF, and HiperSockets. IBM System Storage products include DS8000, DS6000, TS1120 and 1130 encrypting tapes, TS3400 tape library , TS7700 Virtualization Engine, and IBM SAN Volume Controller.
The requirement to integrate z/VSE systems into the larger IT network is a key part of the z/VSE strategy.
Most customers have a variety of platforms installed. z/VSE is frequently just one component of a mixed IT system. Although z/VSE systems provide robust, critical core applications, some applications legitimately run on other platforms.
Mixed IT may occur for a variety of reasons, including:
These are powerful industry trends and are not unique to z/VSE. In general, the future is likely to include more hybrid, multi-platform solutions. By enabling hybrid solutions to leverage z/VSE business data and business logic, customers may be able to achieve substantial advantages. These benefits may include low cost, low risk, and fast time-to-market for new business solutions. That makes interoperability a key customer requirement.
Each customer environment is unique so flexibility is essential. z/VSE interoperability is designed to support almost any combination that a customer considers appropriate. Some customers may want to create integrated, hybrid solutions using z/VSE on IBM System z and Windows or Linux on distributed. Some may want to link z/VSE on IBM System z and AIX on IBM System p servers. Other customers may want to deploy hybrid solutions combining the best of z/VSE and Linux on IBM System z. The use of open and industry standards such as TCP/IP and J2EE helps enable interoperability z/VSE and the customer’s platform of choice.
z/VSE interoperability is supported by two complementary capabilities. One includes priced IBM Middleware such as CICS Transaction Gateway, DB2 Connect, and WebSphere MQ. The second includes connectors and web services provided at no additional charge by z/VSE itself.
Many core z/VSE workloads continue to grow because of additional users, increased volume, new features and functions, and consolidation. Some quite large customers depend on z/VSE. z/VSE enables the growth of cost-effective core applications by supporting selected IBM System z features and IBM System Storage products and features.
However, core applications alone may not be enough. Other platforms sometimes offer new application options not available with z/VSE alone. For example, Linux offers WebSphere, Java, DB2 Universal Database, a rich set of development tools, and a growing selection of packaged applications. It is available on every current IBM server.
Linux on IBM System z offers all the capabilities mentioned, together with an opportunity to simplify the network infrastructure and consolidate workloads from multiple servers. IBM System z IFLs can provide a robust, scalable, cost-effective server environment. z/VM, IBM's premier virtualization technology, adds exceptional flexibility and manageability. HiperSockets can provide fast communications between z/VSE and Linux images on IBM System z. In addition, the 64-bit capability of Linux on IBM System z naturally complements the 31-bit capability of z/VSE.
The z/VSE strategy seeks to enable the effective use of z/VSE together with other platforms, such as Linux on IBM System z, to help customers create modern IT solutions. Customers who leverage the best of z/VSE and the best of other platforms will be in an excellent position for the future.
Customer feedback and anecdotal evidence indicates the z/VSE strategy addresses the needs of today’s z/VSE customers. However, strategy alone cannot be effective without exceptional execution. Development objectives include a high level of product quality and customer service. Another objective is a balanced offering incorporating refinements and enhancements that
- support selected new IBM products and features,
- consider industry trends and standards,
- address total cost of ownership issues, and
- include improvements that have been requested by z/VSE customers individually or through recognized user groups such as World Alliance of z/VSE VM Linux (WAVV) and Guide Share Europe (GSE).
The z/VSE strategy is a refinement of the hybrid strategy first introduced in 2000 with VSE/ESA Version 2 Release 5. Nothing mentioned here should be a surprise to those who have followed z/VSE over the last few years.
Just remember, the basic z/VSE strategy is simple as PIE - Protect, Integrate, and Extend.
Disclaimer: This article reflects the current z/VSE strategy. However, IBM reserves the right to change strategies and plans without notice.
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