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What’s the IBM z/OS Container Extensions trial feature?

Advisory Software Engineer Anthony Giorgio on the IBM z/OS Container Extensions trial feature

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What’s the IBM z/OS Container Extensions trial feature?

IBM z/OS® Container Extensions (IBM zCX) is a new entitled capability of IBM z/OS 2.4. zCX ushers in a new era of hybrid computing by supporting unmodified Linux® on IBM Z® applications running directly on IBM z/OS. Now application developers can develop and data centers can operate popular open-source packages, Linux applications, IBM software, and third-party software together with z/OS applications and data. zCX requires z/OS 2.4, IBM z14® or IBM z15™ hardware and hardware feature code FC 0104 (Container Hosting Foundation). zCX is entitled and is included in the IBM z/OS base. It doesn’t require obtaining any additional z/OS software.

Interested in trying out zCX to see if it’s right for your workloads? Get a free trial (ibm.co/3ddRozM). You can now try zCX for 90 days before purchasing the required hardware feature code. This trial allows you to provision and start as many zCX instances as you’d like during the 90-day window. 

Getting Started

To get started with the zCX 90-day trial, first install the PTFs for APAR OA58969. This will update zCX to recognize the trial feature. Once this is done, you can enable the self-service trial using a z/OS parmlib option. Create a
copy of your existing IFAPRDxx parmlib member, and add the following text:

PRODUCT OWNER(‘IBM CORP’)
      NAME(‘z/OS’)
      ID(5650-ZOS)
      VERSION(*) 
      RELEASE(*) 
      MOD(*)
      FEATURENAME(‘zCX TRIAL90’)
      STATE(ENABLED)

Then you can issue the SET PROD command to activate the
new member. 

To start the trial, you must ensure that the user ID(s) that will be running the zCX instances have read and write access to the zCX registry directory. This is the directory in the UNIX® System Services filesystem where the zCX instances will be stored. You can now create a zCX instance via the IBM z/OS Management Facility provisioning workflow. Once the instance is completely provisioned, you can start it via the START console command provided in the workflow. 

When a zCX instance is started in trial mode, message GLZB021I is issued to the syslog, and the started task’s JESMSGLG indicates the time left on the trial. The trial will terminate at the end of the 90-day period. At that point, zCX will terminate on startup and let you know that the trial has expired. Only one 90-day trial per sysplex or standalone system is allowed. 

While the trial is active, zCX will run normally, with no restrictions on functionality. You can use this time to experiment with one or more zCX instances and try out various Docker containers. If you’re satisfied with zCX and want to continue using it after the conclusion of the trial, you can purchase the necessary hardware feature code. Simply contact your IBM representative to order the code through Econfig. (Note: The hardware feature code 0104 is a CPC-wide feature. Once enabled, it allows zCX to run in any LPAR on the CPC.) 

For more information on getting started with zCX, visit ibm.co/3bnKyaF. For detailed documentation on the zCX trial feature, visit ibm.co/2VxDWzw or see more trials of IBM Z software here.

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