IBM z Systems Supports Modern Languages, Tools, Optimization and Processes

z Systems modernization
Illustration by Martin O’Neill

Modern Languages

To support the streamlined approach to programming, a new generation of languages has emerged, designed for speed and simplicity of development. Developers working on z Systems have access to the familiar languages and toolsets they would have on any other Linux platform. The difference is that no other platform offers the performance, scalability, resilience and security of IBM z*. What follows is a look at some of these languages.

Go was developed in 2007 by a trio of Google software engineers tired of the complexity of C++. The goal was to create a language that made it easy to build new applications in record time. Fast-forward to today and Go, now open source, is available for Linux technology-based z Systems offerings.

Go powers new applications such as IBM Blockchain, an enterprise-grade implementation of the blockchain protocol. A distributed electronic ledger maintains a permanent record (the blockchain) across a network. Before a node in the network can add records (blocks), it must demonstrate that it maintains an accurate copy of the blockchain so far. The protocol uses a cryptographic hash function to generate a unique identifier for each existing block in the chain. If a given node can’t produce that hash, that implies it has made changes to the records and is denied access to the blockchain. The approach protects against fraudulent entries and hacking. (Read more in “Blockchain Brings Speed, Security and Transparency to Business,”

Go on z Systems enables developers to seamlessly transfer their skills to the mainframe environment. They can rapidly create mobile apps on a platform scalable enough to respond to demand spikes for even the most resource-intensive applications.

The z Systems platform also supports Swift, a next-generation language targeted at mobile app development. First created by Apple in 2014 for Apple platforms and OSes, it was expanded to Linux and released as an open-source language in late 2015.

One of IBM’s key contributions was developing Swift as a server-side language. From banking to shopping to weather, a large proportion of mobile apps require that the client device interact with centralized servers. Previously, developers used one set of software tools to create the client-side application and another for the servers. By extending Swift to the server side, IBM has eliminated the need for application developers experienced in front-end programming to learn yet another language to do the back-end work.

“Mobile is the new front end driving the growth of skills and the ecosystem,” Hunt says. “By putting Swift on the mainframe, we’re lowering the barrier to entry for programming on the back end and giving customers the option to have a single language from device level to the system of record.”

Modern Tools

Writing code is only half the battle. To create apps in a time frame that enables organizations to respond to market demand, developers need tools that streamline collaboration and deployment. These open-source tools make it easy to harness the performance and scalability of the mainframe to carry out a host of tasks.

Kristin Lewotsky is a freelance technology writer based in Amherst, N.H.

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