• August 17, 2022

Rocket’s Open Source Tools for z/OS

For a long time, the downside to using the mainframe for open source software had been the limited tools and binaries available. Instead of acquiring binaries from others, the user has to build their own code. Luckily, times have changed and IBM and Rocket Software, along with the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project, have established a strong partnership so that the open source movement on the mainframe can succeed.

With Rocket’s Open Source Languages and Tools for z/OS, we’re supporting access to open source tools and binaries. As we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, accessing mainframe computers was proving difficult due to the lack of education around the COBOL programming language. With the influx of need for government services, there were simply not enough COBOL coders to provide services. With Rocket’s ported tools for z/OS, developers can harness the power of the mainframe without having to spend months learning new skills. They can simply choose their preferred open source language, including Git, R and Python. These binaries are constantly kept up-to-date with the open source community. 

Rocket has also stepped in to support Java Web Start (JWS) users. In 2019, Oracle announced that JWS would not be available on their latest version of Java, leaving many organizations that relied on JWS in a difficult position. For many application developers, JWS was used to address browser compatibility issues. After hearing concerns from many of our customers, Rocket decided to develop a solution—Rocket Open Web Launch. This open-source solution is easy to set up, easy to use, and available to anyone. It’s designed to run any application as configured in its JNLP file against a Java version which may no longer officially support Java Web Start.

Finally, in 2018, IBM, Broadcom/CA, the Open Mainframe Project and Rocket launched Zowe, the first open source framework for z/OS. Zowe bridges the divide between modern applications and the mainframe, allowing for businesses to modernize, scale, and create interoperability between products and vendors. This has been our latest open source project to date, and we’re constantly finding new ways to add to it. For example, just this month, we launched Rocket® BlueZone® Web for Zowe, the market’s first terminal emulator available for Zowe.

The support for open source software on the mainframe has grown significantly since 2000, when IBM first announced their support for Linux. With so many partners committed to this cause, we have seen new advances in the area. This support, along with new tools, has made the mainframe even easier to use and deploy. And that’s a fantastic next chapter in the mainframe’s amazing legacy!

Jim Porell 9 Posts

I am a Solutions Architect at Rocket Software, focusing on pre and post sales technical assistance for Rocket developed products from IBM. Prior to joining Rocket, I was an independent consultant and retired IBM Distinguished Engineer. I held various roles as Chief Architect of IBM’s mainframe software and led Business Development and marketing of Security and Application Development for the mainframe. My last IBM role was Chief Business Architect for Federal Sales. I held a TS/SCI clearance for the US Government, was a member of the US Secret Service Electronic Crimes Taskforce in Chicago and co-authored several security books. I've done cybersecurity forensic work at a number of Retail, Financial and Government agencies and created a methodology for interviewing customers to avoid security breaches for large enterprises. I have over 40 years working with Information Technology.


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