Written by Jan Prihoda, Product Owner at Broadcom that is responsible for Zowe Support
This article originally ran on the Zowe Medium site.
Zowe Introduces Their Portable Software Instance
A new package is the key!
Starting from release 1.24, Open Mainframe Project’s Zowe community has introduced a third method of Zowe installation and configuration for z/OS components. Prior to Zowe 1.24, Zowe installation packages have been offered in two forms, a convenience build, and an SMP/E package. Of course, it is also possible to download source code and build Zowe yourself, but I would expect that most users of Zowe are downloading one of the two binary packages.
z/OSMF Portable Software Instances (PSWI) are becoming a cross-vendor standard for mainframe software distribution, installation, and together with z/OSMF workflows for configuration as well. Technically, a PSWI is just a package containing an SMP/E Consolidated Software Inventory (CSI) and some additional (meta) data. When you register and deploy a PSWI, you get a standardized SMP/E environment just as though you had completed an install using the SMP/E build of Zowe. Later, you may apply maintenance as you are used to doing. For more info on PWSI see the IBM knowledge centre.
Note: The Zowe PSWI is being delivered as a “technical preview” in release 1.24, therefore you will find it in that section of the Zowe Downloads page. Also, the standard documentation page is still being developed and will become available when the PSWI becomes one of the standard Zowe delivery methods.
In a follow up blog post I’ll show how to install, configure and stand up Zowe on z/OS using the tech preview PWSI.
You may ask why bother with another flavor of a distribution package, or why do I need to learn new terms or a new user interface? Here are a few reasons why you should consider giving PSWI a chance.
- Sooner or later all of the mainframe software you manage will be delivered as Portable Software Instances for use with z/OSMF. IBM plans to distribute their software exclusively as PSWIs. Even z/OS v 2.5 will be delivered to you as a PSWI (see IBM’s statement of direction here). Broadcom has also been a leader in this “Common Vendor Install” initiative. Other vendors are following this strategy as well, so it’s just a matter of time before you use your first PSWI. If you would like to read about the future now, I can suggest my colleague’s blog here.
- No SMP/E jobs or scripts are needed. When you register a PSWI and follow the deployment wizard, in a short time you have Zowe ready to be configured. Of course, there are some prerequisites like disk space, sufficient rights, etc. that need to be resolved first, but again, this is common to any other method of installation.
- You don’t need to have strong SMP/E expertise, which enables the installation to be performed by a broader group of sysprogs. But don’t worry, z/OSMF doesn’t hide anything from the installer, so you can still see all of the logs as you would expect.
- Zowe plans to release PSWI for each version from now on. What does it mean? When you download the latest version, you will have the Zowe SMP/E environment up to date. You will not need to download and install the latest PTFs. Pretty cool, right?
- Speed of installation. In fact, this depends on the experience you have with SMP/E, the jobs you may have already written, prerequisites that would need to be resolved, etc. But compared with the pure install process, it is generally much faster. And if you are new to Zowe, the PSWI should be your first choice, for sure.
- Configuration workflows are another benefit that becomes more visible if you use the Zowe PSWI. The Zowe community is preparing a set of workflows that simplify the Zowe configuration process. These workflows are part of the PSWI and when you use workflows after the deployment process you might notice that some values for variables are taken from the variables you filled in during deployment. This is another nice feature you would lose if you would perform the configuration manually or outside of the PSWI.
- PSWI is the future of software distribution and all vendors sooner or later will have their products available in this form. If you are not familiar with this technology, Zowe could be a product that helps you to learn.
Are you onboard?
If the answer is yes, here’s how you can take the next steps. First, you can follow IBM’s documentation (here) for PSWI and stand up your Zowe in minutes. And just in case anyone has any challenges while exploring the new Zowe PSWI, I’m preparing a follow-up blog with a simple guide covering acquisition, registration, and deployment of the PSWI. Perhaps see you next time!
Check out more Zowe blogs written by community members – here. Or, ask a question and join the conversation on the Open Mainframe Project Slack Channel #Zowe-dev, #Zowe-user or #Zowe-onboarding. If this is your first time using our slack channel register here.