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IBM upgrades its Big Iron OS to provide enhanced cloud, security, and artificial intelligence support.

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IBM upgrades its Big Iron OS to provide enhanced cloud, security, and artificial intelligence support.

IBM continues to fine-tune its mainframe for better cloud, security, and AI support in order to retain enterprise users interested in using the Big Iron for cloud and AI application development.

The company announced the release of a new version of its mainframe operating system, z/OS V2.5, which includes enhanced support for containers, artificial intelligence AI, and security.

Applications, according to IBM, are at the heart of z/OS transactional and batch workloads. Fundamentally, developing new applications while modernising existing ones is a component of many enterprises’ digital transformation.

Cloud Provisioning and Management for z/OS is a new feature in the OS that enables customers to provision a new z/OS system from scratch.

“Traditionally, deploying a new z/OS system in an IBM Z LPAR [logical partition] has been a lengthy and complex process requiring the expertise of an experienced system programmer,” IBM explained. “As a result, some clients may postpone the development of new z/OS systems, affecting their DevOps agility and processes.”

Cloud Provisioning and Management in z/OS V2.5 includes a set of templates that simplify the process of provisioning and deprovisioning z/OS systems. By selecting a z/OS provisioning template from the IBM Cloud Provisioning software services catalogue, a junior system programmer can provision a new instance of z/OS in less than an hour, as opposed to the days or weeks it previously took.

Some other new features include:

  • Support for z/OS Container Extensions (zCX), a feature that enables customers to integrate Linux applications and utilities into z/OS. This capability enables unmodified execution of Linux on Z application code on z/OS. Open source, customer-written, IBM product, and third-party vendor software are all available. Ambitus, a project within the Open Mainframe Project, is building a community around Linux on Z software.
  • Enhancements to enterprise modernization through enhanced COBOL-Java interoperability. This provides complete application transparency to developers by extending application programming models.
  • Improved cloud storage capabilities are supported. IBM stated that the use of cloud storage by z/OS is intended to reduce capital and operating expenses by transferring data to hybrid-cloud storage environments for simplified data archiving and protection on IBM Z.
  • According to IBM, z/OS Communications Server supports Shared Memory Communications Version 2 (SMCv2), which enables increased performance without being bound to a single IP subnet. Additionally, Communications Server improves notification of TCP/IP service availability following initialization. IBM z/OS Communications Server enables the use of common applications such as FTP, Telnet, and remote application execution.

According to IBM, z/OS V2.5 serves as the foundation for future support of an open-source Open Container Initiative runtime and Kubernetes container orchestration for IBM z/OS applications and workloads. This support is intended to assist businesses in developing a cloud-native strategy for mission-critical z/OS applications that is container-based.

On the security front, company stated that z/OS V2.5 features improve authentication, authorization, system integrity, and encryption. For instance, the system supports sequential basic- and large-format SMS-managed data sets, allowing customers to encrypt data without modifying the application.

IBM stated that the new software combines Predictive Failure Analysis (PFA), Runtime Diagnostics, Workload Manager (WLM), and JES2 to assist customers in proactively addressing potential problems.

Additionally, company stated that z/OS V2.5 enables application developers to use new hash utilities to maintain file integrity, new Transport Layer Security support when using the z/OS client Web Enablement Toolkit, and enhancements to better control Z hardware operations.

Additionally, company stated that in z/OS V2.5, the Communications Server now extends z Encryption Readiness Technology, or zERT, to enforce network encryption standards via policy-based rules that define various levels of cryptographic protection, as well as actions to take when TCP connections match those rules.

The Communications Server Policy Agent processes and enforces zERT rules and actions. This enables immediate notification via messages, auditing via SMF records, and even automatic connection termination in the event of dubious or unacceptable cryptographic protection, IBM stated.

Finally, company stated that clients can accelerate AI adoption on IBM Z by deploying prebuilt container images for popular machine-learning frameworks such as Tensorflow, which are available via the IBM Z and LinuxONE Container Image Repository. Customers can use machine-learning models on IBM z/OS, for example, via IBM Watson Machine Learning for z/OS (IBM WMLz) 2.3, which has been enhanced to support additional types of machine-learning models.

Additionally, the latest release enables easy import and deployment of deep learning models in ONNX format into an optimised scoring service running in zCX—making deep learning inferencing workloads powered by IBM WMLz 2.3 zIIP eligible.

“IBM z/OS V2.5 enhances the platform’s security and resilience capabilities and enables clients to incorporate AI into every business transaction in real time—imperatives that became even more critical during the pandemic,” Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Z, said in a statement.

IBM intends to continue its overall cloud expansion. According to the company’s recent Q2 financial call, cloud revenue across software, services, and infrastructure has increased to $27 billion over the last year, growing at a double-digit rate.

IBM stated that “financial services continued to drive IBM Z this quarter, owing to capacity requirements to address robust market volatility.” “With security at the forefront of their minds, clients purchased capabilities such as pervasive encryption and hyper protection to secure mission-critical applications and data on-premises and in the cloud.”

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