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zCX: The Perfect Marriage of Linux Software and z/OS

z/OS Container Extensions (zCX) brings a new Linux capability inside of z/OS.

Colorful shipping containers against a white background.

z/OS system programmers are often asked to decide what new technologies would be beneficial to their systems. If you find yourself in this position, it may be difficult to fully understand all of your options and their value. z/OS Container Extensions (zCX) is among these new technologies. 

zCX brings a new Linux capability inside of z/OS. This capability is distinct from UNIX System Services, in that a complete Linux on Z OS is part of z/OS. It runs in a started task just like any other started task. It contains both a full Linux system and Docker, a portable software packaging and execution environment.

Linux Is a Tool 

You, like many system programmers, may be hesitant to run Linux on your system. When you consider Linux's current role, the idea seems far less outrageous. You may not know it, but you probably run Linux today. For example, anyone who owns an internet router is likely running a copy of Linux. And when you run an internet router, there’s little to no management involved after the initial set up. It’s self-managing. It starts, restarts and possibly updates software without intervention. When it comes to zCX, we are referring to this type of Linux use. Linux is simply a tool. It’s a virtual appliance that requires minimal involvement after set up. 

IBM z/OS 2.4 will provide you with a virtual Linux appliance as part of the OS. It’s set up to expose Docker-based functionality. This enables z/OS to run Linux code that has an affinity for z/OS data or applications. The intention is that after set up, an appliance will not require a lot of management from the system programmer. The management the zCX server does need is intended to be simplified using z/OSMF workflows.   

We’ve found that running a virtual Docker appliance as a started task on z/OS brings great z/OS features to Linux applications. Specifically, the Linux applications can benefit from z/OS performance of high-speed networking as well as resiliency around data replication and automation. zCX brings these benefits to your applications without requiring anything running on a server outside of your control. 

Learn More About zCX 

zCX and the integration of Linux as another runtime environment in z/OS expands the value of and possibilities for applications on z/OS. Find more technical information about zCX on our Content Solution home page. We would love to hear your thoughts. Please drop a comment below. 

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