validate files

Validating your files

Mainframe files/datasets are liable to change quite often. After all, people are using those files so they are likely to be modified/updated. So how could you tell whether there had been a legitimate change to the file or it had been hacked? How can you verify that your z/OS files have remained intact and your data is secure?

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Mainframe apps

While a large chunk of the world seems to think that mainframes are out of date and barely hanging on by the skin of their teeth in organizations that haven’t woken up to modern computing techniques, the rest of us know that mainframes, particularly the z14, are the most secure platforms for computing on the planet, and provide the backbone for 70 percent of the top 500 companies.

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Security Information and Event Management

Mainframes don’t need SIEMs, do they?

Mainframes come with plenty of security – why should they use a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), when it doesn’t even run on the mainframe? This is pretty much the opening argument from most mainframers when talking about SIEMs, and, at first glance, it seems pretty reasonable, but is it?

SIEM software products and services combine Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM). They provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware. SIEM products that you may have come across include: ArcSight and IBM QRadar, Splunk, LogRhythm, McAfee Enterprise Security Manager, Dell RSA Security Analytics, or Dell SecureWorks.

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Getting the basics right

Mainframes are expensive – no-one disagrees with that. But what they can do is run industrial strength workloads for less than it would cost on other platforms with much less likelihood of any kind of system malfunction. Having said that, it makes sense to understand mainframe performance and ways that those costs could be reduced.

Let’s start by looking at performance and performance management. Here are some of the metrics used by performance-monitoring tools (also see Does Your Mainframe Need an Oil Change):

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IBM 3270 Green Screen

What’s next for green screens?

The great thing about green screens is that they are so easy and so quick to use. Basically, a screen appears, you enter some information, press tab, enter some more information, and press enter. It’s quick, it’s simple to use, what’s not to like? And that’s how so many mainframers feel. They’ve been using green screens since they were really green to get their work done accurately and efficiently. ISPF, SDSF, and SMP/E are just so straightforward to use with a 3270 display.

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What’s waiting round the mainframe corner?

Anyone who has been working on mainframes for any length of time knows that things are always changing. Many people can remember when DB2 was new (1983), the client-server period, and the need for Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). And, I’m sure, can come up with a much longer list. I don’t want to look backwards at old ideas, I want to take a whirlwind look at what’s coming soon to (at least) a presentation near you.

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drone delivery

2020 vision

I was working recently with a mixed bag of people from a company, who were trying to predict the future and see how that company needed to change in order to get where they thought they ought to be going. One issue came up fairly quickly, and that was that 2020 isn’t that far ahead. As a result, the group started to think about 2025 as date for the changes to be made. The room had a mixture of IT people, execs, a variety of managers, and a number of people from different parts of the organization. I thought it would be interesting to contemplate some of the ideas that came up at the session.

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Bringing DevOps to your mainframe

The days of waterfall software development on a mainframe are coming to an end. It’s no longer tolerable for end users to have to wait two years for a new application to be written and delivered to a spec that, by then, is two years out of date. The inflexibility of the waterfall methodologies make them uncompetitive in the modern mainframe environment. What’s needed are the faster, more flexible, processes associated with Agile and DevOps ways of working. But what does an organization need to do in order to move from their old way of working to this new way – a way that can bring regular and frequent updates to any application to suit the needs of the users?

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No pain, no gain?

The way you learned about mainframes was probably a mixture of courses, working with a more experienced colleague, and trial and error. And once you became a bit of an expert, it didn’t end there. You needed to learn more about Liberty profiles, about RESTful states, about network security, etc. The list of things to know about just continues to grow. And you’re not going to gain any more knowledge without experiencing the pain of learning.

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The Majority of Mainframers Are Above Average!

Imagine what you’d think if the latest IT survey—perhaps even the Arcati Mainframe User Survey—said that the majority of mainframers are able to perform above the average. Would you think that sounded right? Or, would some small piece of a math lesson from long ago keep nagging away at you, arguing that some people would be average, some would be below average, and the rest would be above average—but not enough to be the majority. But is that right?

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