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The Benefits of Transformation Engines for z/TPF

As large V8 engines are replaced with smaller, four-cylinder turbocharged engines, the mainframe will not be excluded. A transformation engine is like a zSeries Information Parallel Processor (zIPP) or an Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL), an engine for running Linux operating system (OS) on zSeries. It is a specialty processor that moves specific types of workloads from the general processors to reduce MIP workload and increase performance.

Transformation Engines

Although not a true specialty engine, the transformation engine is a general processing engine priced at a discounted cost to encourage clients to modernize their Transaction Processing Facility (z/TPF) workloads, application extension and integration with other IBM products. The transformation engine benefits clients that are primarily using the z/TPF OS. While the transformation engine only allows z/TPF workloads to execute on the engine, it allows the usage of unique capabilities to modernize z/TPF workloads such as data events for z/TPF and Transaction Processing Facility Database Facility (z/TPFDF) files, enhanced HTTP client for z/TPF and z/TPFDF capture/restore utility, information and statistics environment.

Is a transformation engine right for your z/TPF environment? Remember that the transformation engine is not a true specialty processor like a zIIP or Linux on IBM Z engine. You will need to order a general processor using e-config for IBM Z. You will also need to contact a z/TPF marketing manager to receive the discounted price for the general process engine to run as a transformation engine. Additionally, customers need to follow the proper process for acquisition and will need to have a contract in place provided by the z/TPF sales team and a technical solution manager for the account. Some key points to think about when considering a transformation engine:

  • IBM and Blue Prism’s partnership views the transformation engine as a general-purpose processor, meaning it can dispatch it to whatever LPAR is active on the machine.
  • Contractual agreement is needed to verify that the transformation engine will not be used as a general processor. If you are running z/TPF and z/OS on the same processor and the transformation engine finds your general processor workload percentage above the number in your contract, it will be charged as a regular general processor. It is best to ensure that only z/TPF workloads are directed to the transformation engine to avoid extra costs.

Transformation Engine Requirements

So, you want a transformation engine. Now how do you get one?

Hardware requirements 

Generally, transformation engines require a microcode upgrade but does not require any hardware installation, provided that you have unused general processors in your configuration. In most cases, this can be done non-disruptively, although most customers will require a change ticket to be open. Once the change is scheduled, the appropriate team will activate the general processor for the transformation engine. The Service Delivery Manager (SDM) or architect will contact the Site Service Representative (SSR) for the assigned account for installation. Once the microcode is downloaded to the mainframe by the SSR, the configuration team configures it for use. The contract must be in place prior to activation.

System requirements 

The z/OS configuration team uses the Hardware Management Console (HMC) to access the general purpose engines and then enable the engine that will be used as the transformation engine. The z/TPF teams will need to create a solution to limit the amount of non z/TPF data being used on the transformation engine. In most scenarios, the transformation engine will be used by clients that strictly run z/TPF and no other operating systems. In this scenario, we discussed an environment that runs both z/TPF and z/OS and have included some of the steps to receive the discounted cost.

IBM Redbooks

Here is some additional information on transformation engines from IBM Redbooks:

  • The data events for z/TPF and z/TPFDF files are capable of supporting the z/TPF system to automatically collect z/TPF and the z/TPFDF data that is created, updated or deleted and send the changed data to event consumers without requiring changes to z/TPF applications
  • An event consumer might use the data for analytics, data warehousing, data caching applications, among other purposes. This gives the client the value of providing support for a database administrator to describe z/TPF and z/TPFDF data in a standard way, automatically sending copies of the changed data to event consumers without requiring application changes.
  • The enhanced HTTP client for z/TPF allows z/TPF applications to issue HTTP client requests to remote HTTP servers, sharing session and asynchronous requests through the high-speed connector and eliminating the need for long-running daemons
  • Infrastructure for the Representational State Transfer (REST) consumer support. The client gains the value of better performing HTTP and eliminates the need for long-running daemons for shared sessions and asynchronous requests. It is also simpler and has dynamic configurations.
  • The z/TPFDF feature allows for a z/TPFDF utility that provides data recovery and validation, controls pool space, and creates statistics. It provides value to the client by providing support to easily maintain and tun z/TPFDF databases.

Just like the four-cylinder turbocharged engines of today, the transformation engine is powerful, affordable and can drive home customer excitement. A transformation engine offers z/TPF customers tools to modernize their environments and increase their performance.