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Imagine a company using mainframes to run (part of) their (often mission critical) business applications, and using z/OS (also known as OS/390, or MVS).

What are the typical softwares they use to facilitate Software Change and Configuration management, for software that is deployed/used on those mainframes?

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From my own experience, these are some the typical softwares packages:

All of these packages can manage, more or less out-of-the-box, anything that's stored in regular "PDS" components (a typical file structure used in z/OS).

When it comes to a company evaluating which one best fits for them, it often boils down to these criteria:

  • IBM SCLM is perceived as free of any license/maintenance fees (actually it's included in the z/OS license, which itself is not free). So if no dedicated budget is available, then this is often the software package that gets selected (better then no package at all). If there is a budget, then this one is often the one that doesn't make it to the shortlist.

  • CA Endevor has the highest install base. Its key strength, IMO, is the way that you can trace down for each executable how it has been compiled/linked using which version of which building blocks (copybooks, etc).

  • SERENA ChangeMan ZMF's install base is quite a bit below the one from CA Endevor. Some of its key strengths are:

    • the notion of "packaging" related software changes, which is at the core of it.
    • its capabilites to deploy softwares towards physically remote sites.
  • Compuware ISPW is like the "new kid in town" (as compared to the CA Endevor or SERENA ChangeMan ZMF alternative). It is commonly perceived as the solution where "any custom SCM requirements can be implemented with it, with a relatively low effort to do so".

Looking at it from an architecture standpoint, then SERENA ChangeMan ZMF and Compuware ISPW appear to have the most open architecture, which is what you'll need if you want to tune it to make it manage software components written in a 4GL language that is (what some call) more exotic, as compared to 3GL languages such as COBOL, PL/I, etc. I.e. because the software components are stored in file systems that are not stored in standard PDSs. Some examples of those languages are:

Attention: having an "open architecture" is great to have it fit your custom requirements (the sky is the limit). However when it comes to upgrading to new releases, it comes with a price to get those custom requirements upgraded also.

Note: rather accidentally, during a CA Endevor training for SERENA ChangeMan ZMF experts, we discovered that CA Endevor and SERENA ChangeMan ZMF appear to have the same roots (from somewhere in the late 1980s ...). For those who are a bit familiar with both of them: go check what the functionality is of these utility programs, with similarly named names ... (you'll be shocked ...):

  • PGM=CONWRITE versus PGM=CMNWRITE.
  • PGM=CONPRINT versus PGM=SERPRINT.
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The answers above assume managing source code for z/OS has to be different from any other platform. The answer 10 years ago might have been the above. But z/OS has evolved along with the z hardware and it is no longer separate. You can use a modern source code manager such as Git for all your source code including any COBOL or PL/I or assembler you might have. Git was updated to handle the ASCII to EDBCIC translation if you get the port from Rocket Software. It's still free and open source, they just did the compile to run on the platform. Having your z/OS source code in the same SCM also allows you to have your test cases and other artifacts along side them. You might be surprised at the number of open source tools you can use with z/OS.

If you have a DevOps pipeline it probably just works with z/OS as well, as an example Jenkins runs on the platform. With a current PTF to z/OS you can even store you build artifacts in Artifactory or Nexus as you do any other platform. The process and practices that are used on other platforms also work for z/OS so there is no reason it has to separate or different.

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There's a company from Belgium who've been in the SCM (now they label their product as DevOps) market for over 12 years. But since they're not a giant like IBM or CA they are less known.

However they have their product (IKAN ALM) running at large banks and insurance companies, mostly as a replacement for Changeman. They support Mainframe and Distributed, this means companies will be able to manage Mainframe and, for instance Java development (and deployment) using the same tool.

They have a brand called BlueBridge, which is actually their main product already configured for Mainframe.

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