Some people say that to modernise your mainframe you need to migrate onto a different platform. We don’t subscribe to this view. We know that the mainframe is still the most highly performant and secure computer system available.


To be competitive, organisations don’t need to migrate off the mainframe. However they do need to ensure their mainframe teams are productive and mainframe is not a bottleneck to change.


Using the latest mainframe tooling is one way to turbo-charge productivity

There are an increasing number of tools available which allow developers to interact with mainframe systems without ever logging into the actual mainframe. For example, IDEs and integration with APIs. This means that green screens are no longer mandatory for mainframe developers. Indeed, some mainframe developers will work without logging into a green screen at all!


Modern tools are also attractive to the next generation of developers who are familiar with IDEs and automation tools.



A Few of the Best Tools


Here are just a few mainframe modernisation tools available right now:


  1. IBM Explorer for z/OS. An Eclipse-based IDE which allows users to connect to, configure and manage a variety of z/OS artifacts, resources and projects. Through IBM Explorer, users can connect to z/OS and edit datasets and files without having green screen skills and with only minimal understanding of the dataset structure.
  2. z/OS Connect provides a way to create, manage, scale and secure RESTful APIs for mainframe applications.
  3. The latest versions of Db2 (v12 and up) include native REST API capabilities which are very powerful.
  4. BMC Compuware offers a range of mainframe tools to make mainframe as agile as any other platform.
  5. Delphix Continuous Data in conjunction with PopUp enables users to serve up copies of their mainframe environments in seconds, and snapshot, fast forward and rewind them.



Adopting New Tools on the Physical Mainframe can be Hard


Despite the clear benefits of these tools, sometimes there is resistance to using them. If a new tool requires utilities to be installed on the physical mainframe that can be a barrier to implementation as it can be viewed as a risk to the physical mainframe. Changes on the physical mainframe can usually only be performed by the mainframe sysadmins, so approval and business justification has to be sought.



A new approach?


Utilising modern mainframe tools without touching the physical mainframe at all is one answer to this problem.


PopUp Mainframe is a virtual z/OS which runs on x86 hardware. It has no dependence on a physical mainframe so anything you do on PopUp poses absolutely zero risk to the physical mainframe. Just like any virtual machine, you can spin up a PopUp easily and tear it down once you are finished.


PopUp runs real z/OS code and supports ANY system or code which runs on a physical z/OS. It can be used for development, testing, training, R&D, software evaluation and more. Using PopUp you are free to install or use any modern mainframe tools you wish and experiment in an isolated, completely risk-free environment. This means your mainframe teams can increase their productivity with IDEs, APIs, automation and much more. PopUp also makes it easy to install the latest mainframe tooling as it comes with preconfigured resources and utilities to enable out of the box integration.


Once development is complete, you can productionise your code and config changes by pushing them onto the physical mainframe.


Using PopUp, you can hire people with no green screen experience and be confident that they will still be able to integrate with and develop mainframe systems.



Real-life Example


One of the PopUp team members with very minimal mainframe knowledge was able to use PopUp to create a RESTful API for Db2 operations in only a few hours. They used IBM Explorer IDE to connect to the Db2 instance (running on PopUp), create CRUD operations to interact with the database and expose those as RESTful APIs. They also used z/OS Connect to manage their REST APIs, with the capability of managing other services at the same time.


This would have been impossible without modern mainframe tools.


Time to embrace modern mainframe tools? We think so!



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