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IBM Rolls Out System z10 Mainframe, Plus Dev Tools

IBM today announced the debut of its new System z10 mainframe computer for enterprise data centers. The company also rolled out various software products and programs aimed at helping its customers and business partners support mainframe operations and enterprise application development efforts.

Clusters of PCs using x86-based hardware may be all the rage, but IBM boasts that System z10 is the equivalent of "nearly 1,500 x86 servers." The company is also touting the energy efficiency of its newest mainframe product, citing "up to 85 percent less energy costs."

One of the new software products associated with IBM's System z10 announcement is IBM Rational Business Developer. This integrated development environment can be used to develop applications for System z without requiring the developer to know the underlying middleware, according to IBM's announcement.

The new IBM Rational Host Access Transformation Services (HATS) solution is designed to help developers take "green screen"-type applications and create Web services out of them that have graphical user interfaces. The HATS tool supports mobile device application creation in particular, according to Scott Searle, IBM's product director of marketing for enterprise modernization products.

Five IBM Rational enterprise modernization solutions were announced today: IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS v4.1; IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS v3.7; IBM Rational Developer for System Z; IBM Rational Transformation Workbench; and Software Configuration and Library Manager Advanced Edition for z/OS v1.2.

Despite developer interest in newer programming languages, legacy coding in the form of COBOL lives on. Searle said that there presently are more COBOL developers around than at any other time. He estimated that there are as many as 10,000 or up to 50,000 COBOL developers in India alone.

Since COBOL applications get tweaked or age over the years, developers may face the dreaded "spaghetti code" mess as they try to adapt legacy apps to meet current business needs.

From IBM's perspective, enterprise modernization involves five components, according to Searle.

The first component is to look at the assets and better understand the code that you have. Separate code with good business logic from the dead code.

The second component is associated with architecture. Use an integrated development environment to take the code you've identified and reconstitute it within the stack that runs on the mainframe.

Third, use the Rational Business Developer interface and IBM's new language -- called Enterprise Generation Language (EGO) -- to move workloads back and forth. EGO refaces the data into a more user-friendly format, Searle explained. EGO is an IBM language newer than COBOL and PL/I and appropriate for System i and System z users.

COBOL, Java, Windows and Linux developers can all use EGO relatively easily, he added.

"I think studies show that if you try to teach a COBOL developer Java, there's a very high failure rate -- I've heard 80 percent," he said. "And it probably goes the same way in reverse. Through EGO, they both can do the same thing and they can output the results in either COBOL or Java."

Fourth, use IBM Rational ClearCase solution for System z to achieve application lifecycle management.

Finally, you can look strategically at your mainframe environment and reuse the proven code that you know works, Searle said.

For more detail on IBM's announcement, see the press release.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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