IBM i wishlist: add an IBM i virtual platform like System z Wazi


March 22, 2021

Timothy prickett morgan

Serendipity is a funny thing; part serene and part dippy I guess. I was looking for something interesting that might be relevant to the IBM i platform, and I came across announcement letter 221-122, which was for something called IBM Wazi Developer for Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces. I had recently heard of CodeReady Workspaces due to recent announcements from Power Systems, but had no idea what Wazi was.

What I know now is that I want this in an IBM i flavor.

There is also no portable, cheap, ubiquitous System z mainframe environment for Power Systems AIX or IBM i operating systems. You can’t just grab the stack and put it on a laptop like developers around the world love to do for Linux and Windows Server platforms. This is a big loophole in a world where any programmer anywhere in the world can run Linux, and depending on whether they want to pay Microsoft, Windows Server, or Windows 10 on a client.

For a long time now – as for over a decade as far as we know, but probably a long time ago – IBM has had one or more emulation environments that allowed z / OS mainframe applications to be written and tested. on PCs. As far as we know, these are not based on the open source “Hercules” System z hardware emulator or the Flex-ES hardware emulator which had all kinds of legal issues with Big Blue some time ago. . The most recent include IBM System z Personal Development Tool, or zPDT for short, which enables z / OS, z / TPF, or z / VSE operating systems and Db2 relational database for System z machines. run on a PC, with the hardware emulated on Linux on an X86 processor. There is another tool called Z Development and Test Environment, called ZD&T for short, which is another emulator that runs on Linux and runs the entire z / OS stack. This last mainframe clone is the most interesting, because it is integrated into this Wazi tool.

ZD&T, as you can read here, is available in a Personal Edition which, as the name suggests, provides an z / OS mainframe platform running on an X86 PC. The Enterprise Edition is a complete product that enables a z / OS-based System z mainframe stack to run on a cluster of Linux / X86 servers. The Parallel Sysplex edition enables the execution of mainframe-type shared memory clustering, native to System z mainframes and their integrated controllers, on a cluster of Linux machines.

IBM cautions early on: “ZD&T cannot be used for production workloads of any kind, nor for robust development workloads, production module releases, pre-production testing. , stress tests or performance tests.

There’s probably a good reason for this, but then again, there’s probably a better reason for wanting to do it anyway. And we strongly suspect that more than a few System z stores are doing just that.

Wazi developer for workspaces CodeReady allows the System z platform to be containerized and run on Red Hat OpenShift so that new cloud native applications written for Kubernetes containers from the start can access mainframe applications. The idea is that this is a development environment, but we have two wishes. First, create an IBM i equivalent to Wazi – you could call it iClipse, as if it would integrate with the Rational Developer implementation of the open source Eclipse integrated development environment. And second, we want IBM to allow IBM i production workloads to run on this X86 and / or Power Iron so customers can start building hybrid containerized applications. Basically, if you cannot make OpenShift native to Power Systems for IBM i workloads, then make IBM i workloads native to OpenShift container clouds running on the iron X86.

I don’t know if IBM spent any money to make an IBM i stack emulated to the same level as the System z iron. We suspect that this is at the heart of all the Flex-ES software that IBM gained access to after its lawsuit with its creator, Fundamental Software. It’s a guess, but only that. So IBM may not have done any work to get the base code at the heart of ZD&T. Or, maybe IBM created it from scratch. It does not matter. What matters is that it exists and sets a precedent to do the same for IBM i and AIX customers, which I think IBM should be doing. Why not let customers choose from a huge variety of hardware that runs an IBM i platform inefficiently or native hardware that runs it extremely well? IBM is doing this for mainframes to make System z relevant for the younger generation, why not for IBM i?

Why not, indeed.

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