The New Zowe Conformant Support Provider Program

Written by Rose Sakach, Zowe Onboarding Squad Lead and Product Manager at Broadcom

At the Open Mainframe Summit 2021 Virtual Event, the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project announced a new Zowe Conformance program called The Zowe Conformant Support Provider Program and congratulated both Broadcom and IBM as the first two Providers accepted into the program. Read more or watch the video “Zowe V1 Conformance: The Meaning Behind the Badge” below from Open Mainframe Summit.

For those familiar with the first Zowe Conformance Program, it is aimed at certifying certain software characteristics of the products and solutions that extend Zowe. Conformant extenders earn their Zowe Conformance badge by satisfying a specific set of conformance requirements associated with the Zowe component being extended. For example the Endevor plug-in for Zowe CLI has earned a CLI — Zowe V1 conformance badge. And while Zowe Conformant extensions offer consumers assurances associated with baseline functionality, component interoperability and consistency in user experience across Zowe core components for every release introduced within a Long Term Support (LTS) version i.e. V1 Conformance = V1 LTS, this Support Provider program offers Support Providers the ability to showcase their Zowe Support competencies.

Why the Support Provider Program Matters
What makes Zowe unique, successful and fundamental for the longevity of the z/OS platform is the fact that it is open, familiar, and extensible. It is the combination of these characteristics that enables a z/OS interactive experience that is similar to other platforms that embrace Open. Simply put, in addition to making it look and feel like “just another server”, the technical transformation of mainframe management and development to be more like Cloud, makes learning about it, accessing it from other platforms, and developing applications for it more intuitive to the majority of IT Administrators and Developers. While at the same time, it is the very open-nature — specifically the sole reliance on the Community to resolve any issue at any time of day or night — that may inhibit enterprises from fully adopting Zowe. That’s where Support comes in and why it matters. Whereby LTS represents stability in the maturity of the technology, Support Offerings can take an open source LTS release to the next level by introducing risk mitigation that essentially translates to stability in problem resolution. They make the technology Enterprise-Grade by addressing the challenge of “who do I call when I have an issue” head-on. Some offerings go even further and include guidance-type services for implementation planning, technology workshops for initial onboarding and ongoing touch-points.

How Will You Know Who Can Support Zowe?
Similar to how the first Zowe Conformance Program assures Zowe consumers that conformant extensions have the Zowe stamp of approval on them for interoperability within an LTS release, the Zowe Conformant Support Provider program offers a virtual safeguard that a given Support Provider has been Zowe-TSC (Technical Steering Committee) -vetted for their ability to both support Zowe components and contribute the code back to Zowe in an appropriate and timely manner. Essentially, it does the homework of verifying a given Support Provider has cleared the qualifications bar. What is included in the qualifications? In general, Support Providers certify they have the hardware, software and personnel needed to diagnose issues, code & test solutions, and provide both standard and emergency fixes for the specific Zowe core component(s) they indicate as being supported. More specifically, a conformant Support Provider will support any authentic distribution of Zowe regardless of where it was obtained — meaning — they will not require a Zowe consumer to download their specific Zowe distribution. Conformant Providers also abide by the applicable Zowe source code licensing, agree to report security vulnerabilities to the Security team, and understand and follow all of the code contribution rules established by the Zowe TSC.

Who’s Eligible for the Program?

Any provider can participate in the program and all are encouraged to apply. The applicant will disclose the set of Zowe components for which they’re seeking a conformance badge, which may or may not be the same set of Zowe components for which they offer support. A Support Provider may seek Comprehensive Zowe Support — meaning they satisfy the criteria for all Core Zowe components — but they don’t have to — there is also an option to offer partial Zowe support. In this case the Provider would indicate a specific component like Zowe CLI or Zowe App Framework and be awarded a conformance badge for that component. For consumers interested in Comprehensive Support Providers, look for the Comprehensive badge. These providers will also be displayed as Support Provider Conformant for each of the individual Zowe components as well.

Just like Zowe, the Zowe Conformant Support Provider program will continue to evolve and is actively developed by the Zowe Community. To ensure neutrality, the program is administered by the Linux Foundation and Open Mainframe Project staff.

A Showcase for Zowe Support for Providers
The Zowe Support Provider conformance program serves as a Zowe-vetted directory of available providers for your consideration. Every Conformant Support Provider will be showcased both on the conformance page itself as well as at the Open Mainframe Project Interactive Landscape, where the Zowe- conformant extenders for technology are also displayed. To-date, you will find two providers listed as “Support Provider Comprehensive ZOWE V1”. They include Broadcom Brightside and IBM Z Distribution for Zowe. We expect this list to grow as more providers become familiar with the program and the application process. Consumers interested in locating a conformant Support Provider that suits their needs can quickly and easily navigate to the directory from zowe.org.

In summary: Got Zowe? Need support? Don’t stress. Embark on your journey of mainframe modernization powered by open source with the confidence of a trusted, Zowe-vetted support partner.