z/OS Container Extensions (zCX) content solution

IBM® z/OS® Container Extensions (IBM zCX) makes it possible to run Linux on Z applications that are packaged as Docker containers on z/OS. Application developers can develop and data centers can operate popular open source packages, Linux applications, IBM software, and third-party software together with z/OS applications and data.

IBM provides a Linux distribution configured to run Docker CE. IBM supplied support code will simplify installation and operation. Clients can participate with their own Linux applications that can easily be packaged in Docker format and deployed in the same way as open source, IBM, and vendor packages. Container Extensions runs on IBM z15™ and z14™ systems.

Big Picture: A z/OS Container Extensions Solution

decide whether zcx is the right solution for you

Decide whether zCX is the right solution for you.

prepare your system and plan for you zcx instance

Prepare your system and plan for your zCX instance.

provision a zcx instance using the zosmf workflow

Provision a zCX instance using the z/OSMF workflow.

deploy your first docker container in your zcx instance

Deploy your first Docker container in your zCX instance.

manage and maintain your zcx instance

Manage and maintain your zCX instance.

How to get started with z/OS Container Extensions

Overview

Now you are ready to log in to your zCX instance and deploy a Docker container.

Visit the Open Mainframe Project, Ambitus, for additional resources to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing of open source technologies that modernize and expand the IBM Z platform ecosystem.

Planning

If you are using local user management, you must create and give permission to anyone who will be using the zCX instance.

Steps

  1. Log in to the Docker Command Line Interface (CLI)
  2. Pull in a Docker image to the container
  3. Create a container from a Docker image

Overview

z/OSMF has additional workflows to manage the lifecycle of your zCX appliance, including deprovisioning a zCX instance.

There is diagnostic information available for zCX should you encounter any problems.

Capabilities for extending zCX use include clustering and orchestration, creating a swarm cluster of zCX instances using the Docker CLI, and deploying Docker containers in a zCX swarm cluster using the Docker CLI. Future releases of zCX plan to include support for Kubernetes clustering.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the benefits of z/OS Container Extensions?

z/OS Container Extensions expands and modernizes the z/OS software ecosystemto include Linux on Z applications. Most applications (including Systems Management components and development tools) that are currently only available to run on Linux will be able to run on z/OS as Docker containers.zCX runs Linux on Z applications on z/OS, using existing z/OS operations staff and reusing the existing z/OS environment. zCX maintains operational control within z/OS and z/OS Qualities of Service (scalability, availability, integrated disaster recovery, backup, WLM, and integration with z/OS security).

Q: Do application developers require knowledge of z/OS to create and deploy Linux on Z applications to run in z/OS Container Extensions?

Applications will look like Docker applications to the developer, not z/OS applications. If your application comes from Linux on Z, then no z/OS skills are required. Docker and Linux knowledge are all that is required.

Q: What are the costs associated with z/OS Container Extensions?

A: zCX is a base element of z/OS.There is no additional software cost for zCX itself beyond z/OS.Associated costs are hardware(z14, FC 0104, optionally zIIPs) and any software licensing of Linux on Z applications running inside zCX.

Q: Does Container Extensions make use of Kubernetes?

A: No, not at this time. The initial release of zCX for IBM z/OS V2.4 provides Docker Swarm as support for Docker cluster management. IBM’s future plans intend to include Kubernetes clustering for the orchestration, scalability, and management of zCX with compatible cloud platforms.

Q: How is Container Extensions different from Linux on Z?

A: zCX gives z/OS environments the ability to deploy Linux on Z applications as Docker containers for workloads with an affinity to z/OS. It is not a replacement for traditional Linux on Z environments.

If you are a client with Linux on Z installations, you will continue to run those installations. If you are a z/OS client that used to, but no longer has a Linux on Z installation, you should consider zCX. If you are a z/OS client that has never had a Linux on Z installation, then zCX Extensions is a low effort way to try Linux on Z.

Q: On which engine types can z/OS Container Extensions run?

A: z/OS Container Extensions address spaces are zIIP-eligible. If zIIP processors are available, the majority of zCX processing (including the Docker containers deployed within zCX) can be dispatched on them. Some z/OS processing on behalf of zCX will be dispatched on General Purpose processors.This processing will generally consume a much smaller percentage of processor cycles compared to what can execute on zIIPs. An exact proportion of zIIP to General Purpose processing is dependent on your configuration and workloads deployed in zCX. If no zIIP processors are available, zCX can be deployed on only General Purpose processors.

Q: What can run in z/OS Container Extensions?

A: Anything with s390x architecture (the IBM Z opcode set) in Docker hub can be run in zCX. The code is binary compatible between Linux on Z and Container Extensions.

In addition to open source packages, there will likely be IBM and third-party softwareavailable. It is intended that clients can participate with their own Linux applications, which can easily be packaged in Docker format and deployed in the same as open source, IBM, and vendor packages.

Q: Are licenses required for applications running inside z/OS Container Extensions?

A: Yes, any licenses that you would procure to run applications in a traditional Linux on Z environment will also be required to run those same applications inside zCX.Licenses are the same as those used for traditional Linux on Z applications. If you are using an application on both Linux on Z and zCX environments, ensure you have enough licensed capacity available to run the application on all the cores on which it will be active.

Q: Is Processor Value Unit (PVU) Licensing effective for IBM applications running inside z/OS Container Extensions?

A: Yes, whatever PVU licensing is in effect forIBM software in the traditional Linux on Z environment is also in effect for zCX. Both General Purpose and zIIP engines are counted as cores.

Q: Will subcapacity pricing for Linux on Z IBM SW (Passport Advantage products) be supported in zCX?

A: Subcapacity pricing is planned* to be supported via the use of the IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT) by the end of the year.Until ILMT reporting support is available, the zCX environment is eligible for manual reporting.Manually generated reports must follow the established guidelines and contain noted mandatory fields.

Calculate the cores per partition or VM for the form using the zCX operator command: Modify zcxname,display,config for each zCX instance on the machine. The number of CPUs will be the number of cores.

* Availability and plans subject to change.

Q: What are some zCX use cases?

A: z/OS software ecosystem expansion: Latest microservices, non-SQL databases, analytics frameworks, ICP, application server environment, and emerging programming languages and environments.

Systems management: Centralization of UI portals for management products and databases

z/OS modernization: Open source application development utilities.

Q: Will there be performance data published for zCX?

A: There is currently no plan to publish performance data for the zCX environment because performance is heavily reliant on individual configuration, workload, and networking characteristics.

Q: Are there samples and resources that I can look at to get started?

A: Yes. Visit the Open Mainframe Project, Ambitus, for samples, build recipes, and other resources to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing of open source technologies to modernize and expand the IBM Z platform.

Learn more

Additional resources and documentation for z/OS Container Extensions will be available on this page as they are released. For now, learn about Containers, Docker, and z/OSMF using the links below.

Take our IBM z/OS Container Extensions survey to help us understand interest and potential use cases for zCX. The survey will help us understand your needs and curate content for you.

Technical resources for z/OS Container Extensions