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Trend Watch: Open-Source Software

This is the fifth post in a multi-part series with a focus on trends that are interesting and important, specifically in enterprise computing. In this post, I’ll continue my point-in-time analysis of trends, this time looking at open-source software.

Open-source software with mainframes is not an uncommon pairing. If in your everyday job you work with Time Sharing Option, write in COBOL and submit jobs through the job entry subsystem to z/OS you might not be thinking about open-source. However, a lot of work today on mainframes runs on Linux, along with traditional licensed software as well as many open-source possibilities for that OS on mainframes. Recently, IBM delivered two Linux-only mainframes—IBM LinuxONE Emperor and Rockhopper—and its largest mainframe code contribution to the open-source community. IBM also made an agreement with Canonical Ltd. to create a version of Ubuntu for IBM's z Systems, and enable products like Apache Spark and MongoDB on z Systems.

Open-Source for Various Workloads Is Real
It’s interesting to explore this software by looking at it by workload such as application development, collaboration, lifecycle management, business analytics, data warehousing, messaging and portals. Let’s explore one specific area—application development.

Application Development and Deployment
Developing and deploying applications is an ever-changing area, yet some actions remain the same. Computer languages and middleware may be new or frequently updated, but the use of systematic development steps followed by rigorous testing and careful deployment is still a matter of course.

Linux Is the Base
The Linux OS is supported on all modern IBM platforms. Application development with Linux running on z Systems is ideal because you can provision virtual Linux servers rapidly; you can completely isolate them; and you can share data, development, and support tools and application code. This is the rich environment upon which you can install IBM development products like Rational ClearCase, Rational Build Forge and Rational Team Concert. These products use a long-standing traditional licensed model.

Examples of Tools From Open-Source Projects
Open-source projects also offer application development tools. Eclipse, an integrated development environment, contains a base workspace and a plugin system capable of extension for customizing the environment. It’s written mainly in Java and can be used to develop applications. Using plugins,

Eclipse can also be used to develop applications in other programming languages including Ada, C, C++, COBOL, Fortran, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, R and Ruby. The initial source code for Eclipse came from IBM’s VisualAge product. Today, Eclipse is released under the Eclipse Public License and the Eclipse software development kit is free and open source.

Another open-source tool is jQuery, which is a cross-platform JavaScript library designed to simplify scripting of HTML. First released in January 2006, it’s used by many of the most-visited websites. jQuery is free and licensed under the MIT License. The modular design of the jQuery library makes it easy to create dynamic webpages and web applications.

Takeaway: z/OS can share mainframe residence with Linux which, like z/OS, makes use of powerful virtualization technology. On top of Linux, there’s support for diverse workloads like application development, collaboration and lifecycle management. These workloads have support from open-source projects, as well as software for suppliers using the traditional licensed model.

Next Post
Next week, I’ll continue this point-in-time analysis of trends with a focus on security. Now more than ever, mainframes are supporting new workloads from diverse sources like mobile devices and cloud services. How are security disciplines and software changing to handle these new systems?