Nowadays the word mainframe is mistakenly used to refer to an old world. New frontiers are monopolized by mobile technology, and most people believe that these two worlds oppose each other, or are even competitors.
I believe many are not aware that IBM System z technology is so up-to-date that it can be efficiently mixed to build a mobile-ready and cost-affordable infrastructure.
The mobile challenge
The new aspects that mobile app developers must consider are the consequence of moving from traditional environments. An unpredictable number of users, multiple technologies and not-so-stable connections lead to the need for more functionality and more secure and cost-effective mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs). So IBM MobileFirst was announced last year to provide answers to all of the following requirements:
- A solid application and data platform
- Integrated management functions
IBM MobileFirst helped developers by providing IBM Worklight, which is designed to help organizations build, run and manage mobile apps. It is a comprehensive set of tools, application programming interfaces (APIs) and runtime components that help give developers the freedom to quickly build the following types of apps:
- Native: By using device native languages, these can use all sensors’ data.
- Hybrid: These are a combination of the previous types. Apps are written for the browser but are wrapped in a container that enables them to access the device hardware.
The IBM Worklight Foundationd is built around five components (these can be seen in the next figure):
- Worklight Studio is a development platform designed for coding, testing and completing integration tasks for web, hybrid or native mobile apps. It interfaces with native tools, such as XCode and Android Studio.
- Worklight Application Center enables a company to set up an app store to distribute mobile apps.
- Worklight Server is a horizontal, scalable middleware that sits between the mobile app and the back-end, enterprise services. It acts as an auditable control point for mobile devices, and it provides a strong security layer with functions for multi-factor authentication and mobile app authenticity checking.
- Worklight Device Runtime is a client-side runtime code compiled into hybrid apps that embeds functionality, such as offline, encrypted and syncable data stores that can interact with the Worklight Server.
- Worklight Console is a web-based user interface for monitoring and administering the Worklight Server and its deployed applications.
You can find more info from the IBM Worklight technology overview.
System z brings good news to mobile
The System z platform is not only one of the most reliable and flexible platforms but also one of the most innovative ones. Some technologies, like transactional memory or out-of-order execution are exploited by software like IBM DB2, IBM CICS and compilers, allowing performance at a best-of-breed level. System z platforms can scale, both vertically and horizontally, without service interruptions. Spare resources and control mechanisms also make this the right infrastructure for the highest availability requirements. These characteristics and solid virtualization capabilities are available to a wide range of operating systems that can be run on the System z platform.
Another unique aspect is the ability to connect virtual machines with HiperSockets (a no-cost feature). This builds a secure and fast TCP/IP network within System z, running at memory speed. Data transfers between Worklight Server and software like IBM MQ, DB2, CICS and IBM Information Management System (IMS) will benefit from such speed. The adjacency with existing database and transaction systems will also allow faster data access and reuse of old applications.
How do you put mainframe and mobile together?
The Worklight Server will gain the benefit of all these characteristics when deployed on a typical Linux environment on the System z platform. Linux on mainframe? Yes, of course; this has been possible for almost fifteen years using the dedicated processor called Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL).\
Considering all the adapters of the Worklight Server with MQ, DB2, CICS and IMS, its ideal deployment is on a Linux for System z. The coexistence with database and transactional environments will be easy and cost effective, allowing you to reuse existing data and programs with no changes. From a performance point of view, the System z platform is so flexible because it allows you to add more IFL processors in-flight when needed in order to deal with your workloads’ peaks. Your recovery needs will be easier to address by adding the same number of IFL processors to your recovery site and adapting your existing data replication solution.
So what about those who do not already own a System z? The mobile challenge is an opportunity to rethink your data center and start consolidation initiatives of all your Linux systems on a new System z. I will be happy to help you in this journey or be in touch with any colleague of mine that might be engaged with you, so connect with me on Twitter @vidierre.