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IBM is sweeping cobwebs off big iron with a host of new software products and updates aimed at streamlining maintenance and squeezing more workloads out of the System z mainframe.

The company said System z has renewed life as a platform for its cost-cutting and consolidation values, but alas, software today requires better connectivity and management to suit a modern multi-platform approach and often a web front-end.

The new wares for System z span the IBM software portfolio, dropping into Rational, Information Management, WebSphere, and Tivoli.

"Companies have a lot of investment in software assets, people, and intellectual assets in the mainframe that need to be leveraged for where today's businesses are going," said Dave Locke, director of offerings at IBM Rational.

Big Blue said its new Information Management System (IMS) version 11 now provides direct SQL access to IMS data from any distributed platform and easier connectivity through TCP/IP. The transaction and database manager also adds enhanced Java support to let COBOL and web developers alike support IMS applications and business services.

New WebSphere products to boost connectivity, business process management, and integration include IBM Problem Determination Tools version 10; WebSphere Process Server for z/OS version 7; and IBM WebSphere ILOG Business Rule Management Systems.

On the maintenance side of things, IBM is debuting IBM Rational Developer for System z version 7.6. Locke said the update features a modern GUI development environment for legacy "green screen" users.

"Still a lot of green screens going on out there, which always surprises me," said Locke. "In the distributed world you don't see that so much — but there's still a lot of it going on. There's a lot of great code back there though. The UI needs to be changed, but there's no reason to change all the back-end business logic."

IBM's software development collaboration software, Rational Team Concert for System z, has been kicked with a new version that bridging application lifecycle management across multiple platforms and existing environments.

Also in the pipe are an enhanced set of IBM Rational Compilers for C/C++, COBOL, and PL/I.

For big iron management, IBM has kicked its Tivoli product line a kick to the arse. The new Tivoli Asset Discovery for z/OS scouts out and reports on unused or obsolete applications running on the z/OS platform. IBM claims inspecting licenses versus deployment works for distributed platforms, not so much for z/OS products that are shared by users and business units.

IBM Tivoli NetView for z/OS is a set of tools for managing and automating network resources, such as TCP/IP. Version 5.4 improves network capabilities with discovery and monitoring TCP/IP subplexes, NetView domains, Telnet servers and Ports, Logical Partitions, and Hipersocket interfaces. Automation capabilities have also been boosted with a new Command Revision Table for managing z/OS commands. ®

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