More to Know About Zowe: Your Questions Answered

From SHARE HQ, with responses from the Zowe Community Leadership Committee

Earlier this year at SHARE St. Louis, representatives from the Open Mainframe Project, IBM, Rocket, and CA got on stage at the Tuesday keynote to announce the launch of Zowethe first z/OS open source project sponsored by the Open Mainframe Project. Zowe was created to make it easier to access the mainframe environment, lowering barriers for younger professionals just starting with z/OS.

After a panel discussion, the session opened up to Q&A. The following questions were submitted by audience members, but could not be answered on stage due to time limitations. The responses below are shared on behalf of the Zowe Community Leadership Committee.

With the open nature of Zowe, will there be more options for personal use of z/OS for independent research?

Having access to z/OS is a known requirement. IBM is working on z/OS as a service. You can request access to an experimental site by contacting Mike Fulton. Another option being worked is the Open Mainframe Project, which is working toward providing an open z/OS build environment, in conjunction with the Zowe community. There are also ongoing discussions about a community z/OS sandbox. Stay tuned for more information as plans solidify.

When we create shortcuts to address the skills gap, it has a bad side effect: over time very few know the inner workings of the system. How do we plan to balance between the two conflicting things?

Zowe is built around the vision of bringing modern skills, tools, and workflows to z/OS. But it’s also about building a community of both experienced and novice mainframers, and we encourage open collaboration and knowledge transfer. It is still important to developers, system programmers, architects, and Zowe users to understand the inner workings of the system, but with Zowe, one can use a newer, more intuitive way to interact with the system.

Who approached who to start the Zowe project?

It wasn't just one company that came up with the concept of Zowe. In conjunction with the Open Mainframe Project, the three founding companies (IBM, Rocket, and CA) helped to formulate and shape the mission of the project: to create an extensible and integrated framework of software services to help bring modern tools and applications to z/OS.

Do you expect this initiative to increase mainframe mindshare around the world?

Absolutely. Businesses today rely on the mainframe to:

  • Perform large-scale transaction processing (thousands of transactions per second)
  • Support thousands of users and application programs concurrently accessing numerous resources
  • Manage terabytes of information in databases
  • Handle large-bandwidth communication

Overall, the mainframe is often used by IT organizations to host the most important, mission-critical applications. Zowe leverages these inherent mainframe platform features and provides an open source framework to enhance developer, system programmer, architect, and user experiences to increase DevOps agility on the mainframe.

Unix is open and it creates security exposures. How are you going to ensure the z/OS integrity record?

Security is an utmost priority when working on the mainframe. Zowe components do not bypass any of today's z/OS security.

Do you expect contributions from outside the mainframe community to Zowe? How do I contribute to Zowe?

We look forward to contributions from outside the mainframe community. Contributing to Zowe is no different than any other open source project. One can contribute code, issues, designs, and ideas by getting involved in the community. Visit to join in the conversations through Slack and email distributions. Make sure to join the #zowe-onboarding Slack channel. Its goal is to support you in your efforts to get up to speed on Zowe. If you have an idea for a new app or project that involves Zowe, submit a git issue to the Zowe Leadership Committee (ZLC) here. For more information about Zowe community governance, check out our charter.

What's the long-term commitment to Zowe?

There are more than 50 committed individuals who are actively working on developing Zowe in the open source community. IBM, Rocket, and CA have openly stated that they will continue to invest significant R&D resources into developing new tools and applications that make use of the Zowe framework and technologies. Our community continues to grow, and we look forward to inviting others to participate and commit to the project.

Where can I dig into details about Zowe?

The best way to dig into Zowe is by visiting our Resources page. There you will find a variety of developer tutorials, samples, and user and installation guides. Can't find something you need there? Reach out to community members at the #zowe-docs channel.

SHARE has been sharing code since its beginning in 1955. How does that differ from today's open source movement?

Philosophically, the concept of SHARE and today's open source movement are one and the same. Today, we use different tools and technology to transfer skills, ideas, and code across the world. It’s hard to touch a piece of technology that does not incorporate some form of open source.

What does Zowe stand for? Is this an acronym?

Zowe is not an acronym. It's a young, energetic, and cool sounding name. It starts with a "Z," providing a natural association with IBM Z.

Will existing products become open source now?

This is not out of the question. Technology once planned to become products was contributed to seed this project. If there is existing technology that you would like to contribute, you can reach out to the Zowe Leadership Committee (ZLC) to see how new contributions can be integrated. You should expect to see Zowe technology incorporated into commercial products in the future.

The mainframe is more than z/OS. Do you expect this to be extended to the other OS platforms? Or separate projects?

At the moment the Zowe community is focused on z/OS. However, Zowe is a general-purpose framework to provide infrastructure services, and could be extended to other operating systems. Whether this occurs as a separate project or is included in the Zowe project is still to be discussed. However, the Open Mainframe Project would be a great home for any open source project on the mainframe, regardless of OS.

Will there be an abstraction layer that lets users use z/OS without having to learn JCL?

Yes, providing an abstraction layer is one of the objectives of Zowe. Since z/OS does require JCL for many actions, there may be JCL defined in a user's Zowe profile or included in a REST API call, but the user should not need to know JCL to perform a task.

Does Zowe assist system administrators in configuring and maintaining the system? If not, will this skills gap be addressed?

Zowe today does not configure z/OS, but that is definitely a direction for the project. Zowe works along with z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF) to speed configuration and make it easier to accomplish. Zowe today is an optional, open source framework on z/OS. z/OSMF is a core component of z/OS for management functions, including configuration.

What kind of support is available for problems in Zowe environment?

Zowe support today is through the Open Mainframe Project, by raising issues on github or communicating using other project tools for collaboration.

Will Zowe be bringing in the CBT Tape?

Not at this time.

What type of open source license is Zowe using? What are the T&C's for contributing? How is IP handled?

Zowe source code is licensed under EPL 2.0. The Open Mainframe Project and Zowe community want to encourage adoption of technology that fosters innovation and allows new source code to be shared across the Zowe ecosystem. The open source code can be used by anyone, provided they adhere to the licensing terms. In the simplest terms, if you modify EPL 2.0 licensed source code and you distribute that code or binaries built from that code outside your company, you must make the source code available under the EPL 2.0 license.

How might z/OSMF work under Zowe?

z/OSMF provides z/OS services to Zowe, such as accessing JES, MVS, security or USS resources. Zowe is an optional, open source framework on z/OS that leverages z/OSMF.

Do you see this helping customers by reducing, or at least not increasing, software MLC?

Zowe is not expected to impact MLC costs.

Can Zowe be used to manage infrastructure or just line of business applications?

Zowe is primarily targeted at z/OS services, but since line of business applications run on z/OS, then Zowe indirectly supports them.

Recent Stories
IBM Z Champions Mentor and Build Community

Transforming Batch Resiliency through Greater Control Using Analytics and Automation

Rolling with the Tide: Flexibility in Mainframe Training