The Offerings Direction Is to Streamline Product Installation on the z/OS Platform

product installation z/OS

When IBM began to offer software to its customers many years ago, most products had different installation procedures. Standardization followed when a new division was formed to distribute IBM’s software. At about that same time, the forerunner to System Modification Program/Extended (SMP/E), SMP, was written and products were packaged to use it according to a set of rules. This consistent approach caused dramatic improvements, and it was a great step forward, for the 1970s. Much like 1970s-era automobiles, though, that solution didn’t last very long.

The power and flexibility of SMP/E and its value as a service tool notwithstanding, its usability as an installation tool in combination with the ways IBM delivered software left something to be desired. Thus, improvements were made to IBM’s installation processes over time. The Installation Productivity Offering (IPO), the Custom-Built IPO (CBIPO) that followed it and the Custom-Build Product Delivery Offering (CBPDO) were introduced. Later, ServerPac replaced CBIPO. After a somewhat rocky start, ServerPac went on to surpass its predecessors in flexibility and usability. Today, most customers use it for installation of z/OS* and other products.

Since its introduction, several of improvements have been made to ServerPac. A relatively recent enhancement is support for getting almost any IBM product on the z/OS platform by itself or in combination with other products in a ServerPac, without having to include what we have called “base products” (i.e., z/OS, CICS*, Db2*, IMS* and WebSphere*). For example, to get the Print Services Facility, you no longer need to order z/OS.

IBM calls this Product ServerPac, and it’s intended to let you order products in the sets you want to install, migrate and maintain together. Unless you run exactly the same products on every system, this can help reduce the number of system and subsystem builds and individual product installations needed to create the product sets you want to have available for deployment to different environments within your enterprise.

Many Options

However, there’s more to do. ServerPac is perhaps too flexible in offering its plethora of options, and it’s more complex than it needs to be.

The three standard IBM offerings available in most countries are ServerPac, CBPDO and the Standalone Products and Fixes ordering path. Worldwide, IBM has no fewer than six different ways to order and install products on the z/OS platform supported in the online ordering and delivery solution Shopz. Shopz presents these offering choices before you can see what products stand behind each one, and not all products are available in all of the offerings.

So let’s take a step back. If you were in charge at IBM, how many ways would you want to have for your clients to order and install software from its Shopz ordering portal? Most people would probably say “one.”

John Eells is a former MVS and OS/390 system programmer who also worked in ServerPac design. Now a senior software engineer in IBM Systems, his current assignments include z/OS technical marketing, future release planning and strategy.

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