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A Mainframe at Your Fingertips

zPDT offers a new dimension for System z application development

9/28/2011 5:15:12 PM | Whether you’re a mainframe customer looking to create a sandbox environment or an independent software vendor (ISV) seeking to delve deeper — IBM System z Personal Development Tool (zPDT) can meet your needs. A foundational application-development tool, it can enable a virtual System z architecture environment on x86 and x86-compatible platforms, such as the Lenovo Thinkpad W Series, or IBM System x 3500 or 3650 servers.

Using zPDT technology allows you to run mainframe OSs, middleware and software unaltered. With it, organizations can:
• Develop a low-cost platform for System z application development, allowing you to create sandboxes, conduct proof of concepts and get your projects off to a fast start.
• Go mobile with education and demonstration of System z solutions. On a laptop zPDT puts System z in the palm of your hands and enabling you to showcase the capabilities of your product anywhere and anytime.
• Go global by supporting developers in remote locations with their own zPDT system.
• Enter new markets by empowering vendors new to the System z ecosystem to have a virtual environment of their own, potentially opening up their applications and solutions to new opportunities.

The IBM zPDT consists of software that is authenticated and enabled by a USB hardware key, loaded on to the Intel and Intel-compatible platform, running Linux. The zPDT allows for a wide range of system configurations. It comes in three system sizes: one, two or three virtual engines.

These virtual engines can be defined as System z general-purpose processors, System z Integrated Information Processors (zIIPs), System z Application Assist Processors (zAAPs), System z Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) and Integrated Coupling Facility (ICF). The virtual engines can be enabled as separate uni-processors or as a multi-processor configuration. And the virtual engines can be defined into different configurations.

zPDT technology supports full 64-bit System z operation and can run the z/OS, z/VM, z/VSE and Linux for System z OSs and all of their associated middleware and tools, unaltered. It also supports a variety of real and emulated devices, for example:

Simulated Disk

• 9336 FBA, any model, greater than 2G
• 3380/3390 CKD, any model up to 64K cylinders
• 3390 Extended Address Volume (EAV)
• CKD and FBA device sharing, CKD versioning

Attached Tape

• IBM TS1120
• IBM 3580 Ultrium
• Fujitsu M2488E

Simulated Tape

• 3420, 3422, 3480, 3490, 3590
• Data compression

Simulated Devices

• Printer
• Card reader
• Consoles
• Cryptography and more

Tailor Made
The zPDT technology is available in two versions designed for two distinct purposes. Any System z customer, service providers, business partners and ISVs can get the simpler version as part of the Rational Developer for System z Unit Test (RDz-UT) offer. The RDz-UT is for single-image, pre-production z/OS sandbox environments only. It may not be used for production workloads, including production module builds, pre-production testing, stress testing or performance testing – access to a full-size production z/OS system is required.

IBM PartnerWorld ISVs can get zPDT technology as part of the IBM System z Developer Discount Program (zDD). Nomination for the program can be done online. Under the zDD program, qualified ISVs can use zPDT technology with any number of OSs, images and users. It’s ideal for supporting multiple environments and configurations.

Positive Results
“Our zPDT system has functioned exceptionally well with no unscheduled outages of any kind,” says Mike Shaw, owner of Referential Systems, LLC. “The system’s performance has been superior, with more than enough capacity to meet our needs. As an ISV, we have found that zPDT is an excellent tool that provides us with the flexibility and reliability we need to effectively support our customer base.”

More information on zPDT technology, features and functions, minimum system requirements, support options, the System z Developer Discount program, how to order, and technical documentation is available online.

Gita Grube Berg is the marketing manager for z/OS. She has 15 years of mainframe experience spanning sales, sales support, product launch and partner enablement, as well as product marketing.

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Ray Mullins
The zPDT is a nice offering by IBM. However, it's still encumbered by high costs for independent "mom & pop" or "basement tinkerers" software developers, plus the vetting by IBM that you are actually worthy of becoming a part of PWD.

I believe that if IBM wants a bigger mainframe resurgence, they have to provide a path for those types, plus hobbyists such as DEC, now HP, does for OpenVMS, and provide a way for those participating in the "Master The Mainframe" contests to stay current, by providing a low-cost avenue into the z/OS, z/VSE, z/VM, and z/TPF world.

If there is such a way, then the message needs to be broadcast better, because I'm unaware of it.
10/6/2011 6:13:57 PM
The split zPDT offering creates two shoes and neither fits in the real world for most customers. Most real world customers are running in a Parallel Sysplex environment and the RDz-UT offering does not allow programmers to develop and test their applications in a Parallel Sysplex environment. Production is not the place to find out that you have a fundamental problem in the design of your application so to actually be usable any development and test environment must allow applications to be tested in the environment where they will be running. Net, Monoplex is not Sysplex and Monoplex is not sufficient.
Most real world customers are not IBM PW ISVs and thus they do not qualify for the zPDT offering that would allow them to run their testing in a Parallel Sysplex environment. Net, a non-starter.
The zPDT offering is a nice concept that needs a small tweak. Allow the RDz-UT offering to run in the Parallel Sysplex environment supported by the zPDT offering any you have something really usable by real world customers that makes the cost of z application development very competitive with other platforms.
All of the above said, the point made in the previous comment is also applies in the real world and it is one of the major reasons why most of our current development is targeted away from the mainframe. NONE of the people hired into our applications development group over the past 10 years has ever been near or even heard of z/OS for the most part. In school and at home they had an Intel based system running one of the Linux versions. They know the Linux tools used for developing and testing applications and they know and understand the Linux OS. Even if they are curious about z/OS and they are interested in trying it out their schools have no mainframe hardware to run z anything on, their professors know nothing about any z software, and they cannot legally run z anything on any of the hardware that they have at home IF they could somehow get a copy of it. Also, I haven’t seen the price for the zPDT offerings but I can already imagine how they compare to the price of downloading the latest Centos version over the internet so if you are one of those “basement tinkerers” what are you going to have available to develop the next great world killer app on? Probably not anything z.
10/31/2011 2:59:55 PM
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