Evangelizing Mainframe
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The z/OS Management Facility

Introduced in 2013, the z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF) is designed to allow users to manage various aspects of a z/OS system from a browser. The  browser can be anywhere—on your phone or tablet, at the office or even at home. It’s all part of IBM’s plan to make the mainframe simpler to use with more modern interfaces. And it’s free to z/OS customers, although it does have its own product number and has to be ordered.

z/OSMF is more than just a simple GUI. It’s intelligent, and designed to address the needs of a diversified skilled workforce in order to maximize productivity. It helps users more easily manage and administer a mainframe system by simplifying day-to day operations and administration of z/OS.

z/OSMF Capabilities

So, you’re sitting in front of your browser. What can you do with z/OSMF? Well, there are a number of things, including:

  • Viewing, defining and updating policies that affect system behavior
  • Monitoring the performance of the systems in your enterprise
  • Managing software that runs on z/OS
  • Performing problem data management tasks
  • Consolidating z/OS management tools

More than one person can be logged in to z/OSMF at any time, from different computers, using whichever browser they prefer.

In addition to z/OSMF being free of charge, there are a number of other reasons you might want to use it. It’s designed to improve productivity, reduce the number of errors people make and generally simplify tasks. You don’t need to be highly trained to use it. New users like z/OSMF because it enables them to use a modern browser-based UI, and that’s probably what they’re familiar with. z/OSMF also comes with built-in wizards that guide users through tasks, and there’s online help available. As a result, learning how to use the product can be very quick.

Once a user has logged in, they will see the following list of tasks they can perform listed down the left-hand side of the page, including:

  • Welcome
  • Notifications
  • Workflows
  • Configuration. This has a single subsection, which is Configuration Assistant
  • Links. This has a number of subsections including ShopzSeries, System z Redbooks, z/OS Basic Information Center and more. It provides a common launch point for accessing resources beyond z/OSMF.
  • Performance. This has a number of subsections, including Capacity Provisioning, Resource Monitoring, System Status and Workload Management.
  • Problem Determination, which includes Incident Log. This provides a consolidated list of SVC dump-related problems, along with details and diagnostic data captured with each incident.
  • Software categories, including Software Management.
  • z/OS Classic Interfaces, including ISPF, which lets users launch ISPF functions directly.
  • z/OSMF Administration, which includes Application Linking Manager, Import Manager and Links as subsections.
  • z/OSMF Settings, which includes FTP Servers, SCSF Settings and Systems as subsections.

An In-Depth Look at z/OSMF Tasks

Let’s take a closer look at some of these z/OSMF tasks.

With Workflows, users can reduce the potential for error when configuring components and products for their z/OS system. Configuring a system can involve many interrelated steps that need to be carried out by different members of an organization. Such projects require careful planning and coordination to ensure the best results.

Configuration Assistant can help with configuring a network. This complex process involves multiple tasks, the configuration syntax can be complicated and error-prone, and it is often difficult to assess how configuration changes impact the network. The Configuration Assistant helps in configuring TCP/IP networking policies and can help reduce the amount of time taken to create network configuration files.

The Workload Management task can be used to identify and manage the different levels of workload service classes. Work with low importance might be holding a resource that high importance work has to use as well. The Workload Management task can help simplify the creation, modification and review of z/OS Workload Manager (WLM) service definitions.

Incident Log can be used when problems occur. The Incident Log task is designed to facilitate problem data management tasks for new or less skilled system programmers and system administrators. It can also provide procedural advantages for the experienced system programmer by providing an event log summary and detailed view of z/OS incidents.

The Software Management task helps users streamline the software management process by providing a centralized location that can be used to manage their z/OS platform software. Users can create, print and export reports about their software and installed products.

z/OSMF Software 

When you get z/OSMF, it comes with the following software:

  • z/OSMF server
  • WebSphere Liberty profile, which provides an application server runtime environment for z/OSMF
  • A set of optional system management functions or plug-ins, which you can enable when you configure z/OSMF
  • Technologies for serving the web browser interface, such as JavaScript and Dojo

If you’re not familiar with Dojo, or the Dojo Toolkit, it’s an open-source modular JavaScript library for the speedy development of cross-platform, JavaScript/Ajax-based applications and websites.  

Even the recently announced Zowe uses z/OSMF. z/OS REST APIs are made available by z/OSMF, and Zowe uses these REST APIs to submit jobs, work with the JES queue and manipulate USS or MVS data sets (among other services).

Onboarding New Staff 

z/OSMF is a great way to onboard newer staff who are not so familiar with green screens and all the things that more experienced mainframers use quickly and efficiently every day. It can spread the fantastic facilities and features that are available on the mainframe to those who were previously thought of as outsiders.

As a result, z/OSMF allows organizations that rely on the mainframe for business advantages to continue to experience this same success, even if they’re using staff without the wealth of mainframe experience that otherwise would have been needed.

Posted: 12/13/2018 12:55:26 PM by Trevor Eddolls

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