Porting an Enterprise App to System Z – My Experience Pt.2

Part 2 of 4: The Good

I provided a simplistic overview of what I intended to port to Linux for System z in Part 1. The original application was built for x86 systems. As such, all binaries are built to run on x86 systems. The Docker containers that these applications run in are x86 binaries as well. So my job was to create the Linux for System z (aka S390X) binaries, with as little change as possible.

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Enterprise App

Porting an Enterprise App to System Z – My Experience

Part 1 of 4: The Basics

At the end of 2016 and lasting a few months into 2017, I completed a proof of concept port of a large Enterprise Application that had been running on the Amazon Web Service Cloud to Linux for System z. This was a Docker based application written in Java…so of course, it would be trivial to port. WRONG. While the application is in Java, it called many pieces of open source code. Much of that code hadn’t been ported to System z yet or wasn’t widely adopted. What I thought was a very simple exercise turned into a six month effort.

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Demystifying Cloud for Mainframe Managers

The IBM 360 mainframe made its debut in April 1964. With the unprecedented ability to perform 229,000 calculations per second, it became the enterprise platform for transaction-heavy, critical applications. With the emergence in the mid-1980s of mid-range systems (such as SUN’s RISC processor) as well as PCs networked with servers, many thought the mainframe would go the way of the dinosaur. However, in the early 1990s IBM introduced the System/390 family with a groundbreaking computing capacity of 1,000 MIPS (million instructions per second). Since then mainframe computing capacity has increased by more than 30% year-over-year.

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authorization

Multi-Factor Authentication Has Arrived – The Mainframes Are Ready

Retinal scans. Face recognition. Fingerprint scanners. Spoken phrases. Randomized pins. Those cool full-body laser scanners from the movies. Science fiction has correctly predicted many aspects of how we live in the digital age, including the rise of security practices involving more than one sort of security test or “factor,” called Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). And while those full-body scanners are still a few years away (and honestly more cool than they are efficient) even our mobile phones now integrate fingerprint scanners and require more than one means of logging in. As criminals get more creative, security must compensate, and soon everything from online games to mobile banking will depend on MFA to ensure even a baseline level of protection.

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Disconnect

The Great Disconnect

Do CICS programmers / JavaScript programmers know what it is they’re working on?  Sure they know how their programs work and how they interface with other modules, and so on, but do they know exactly where in the business they are used, and do they know how important they are to the business?  And do business managers properly relay the critical nature of what they ask for to everyone down the line?

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Q: Meltdown, Spectre (and new variants) – how best to cope?

A: Become a Grandmaster at Whack-a-mole!

“…used with reference to a situation in which attempts to solve a problem are piecemeal or superficial, resulting only in temporary or minor improvement…”

Much (very much!) has been written regarding the security threats posed by the discovery of system processors being exposed to the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities.  And as if these vulnerabilities weren’t already serious enough a quick Google search yields headlines like: “Meltdown-Spectre flaws: We’ve found new attack variants, say researchers – Intel and AMD may need to revisit their microcode fixes for Meltdown and Spectre.”

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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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Security

Mainframers are starting to ask questions about security – and that’s a good thing

IT security crises are forever making business headlines. In 2017 it was the high profile ransomware attacks and huge data breaches such as Equifax. Barely a week into 2018 and we had the revelations surrounding the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities affecting computer chips around the world.

Traditionally, the mainframe community has been a little smug about security, generally believing our platform to be immune from many of the risks faced in distributed environments. Isn’t that one reason why the big banks and credit card companies continue to rely on mainframes to process transactions?

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Modern Mobile Mainframe

The Modern and Mobile Mainframe

Without revealing my age, I got my first mainframe job back when terminal emulators were a new idea. They were rudimentary with only basic features like copy and paste available, but the number of licensed seats we had for those PC-based emulators was limited, so we still performed most of our work at “green screen” terminals. Often called ‘dumb terminals’, these stations had rudimentary functionality, green-tinted screens like you’d find in the movie Alien, and the tendency to beep with every keystroke, making them annoying in more ways than one to use.

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Modern Analytics

Analytics – now – and in the future

It has been going on for decades on the mainframe
The future is about doing it better in multi-platform environments
And – in real time

Given the meteoric rise in the use of smartphones, the increasing inter-connectivity between what were previously non-connected devices (IoT), and more business-relevant data becoming available now more than ever before, you need to ask yourself – “Okay, just exactly how do I find the proverbial “needle in the haystack?”

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