Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment



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Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment

Postby deucalion0 » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:39 pm

I work for a company as a junior Systems Programmer, I have been given an IBM RDZ environment to play with to help me learn the zOS operating system. My problem is, what to do with this? I want to install products using SMPE, I want to get into the nuts and bolts of zOS and fully utilize this amazing tool but I have no real clue where to start. I have no manager to direct me, I am left to experiment myself.

Can anyone suggest tasks for me to do? Things I can do to build my experience of zOS? Installing products is tricky because of license agreements etc, are there any products that are free which would expose me to the the full end to end scope of an installation?

What would you do if you had this system to play with?

I want to learn things such as the process of installing zOS from scratch or tuning a part of the system, building ISPF panels, writing automation scripts, create started tasks, things that I cannot do on production systems.

For anyone that does not know what RDZ is, you can read about it here http://www-03.ibm.com/software/products/en/developerforsystemz

It is basically my own zOS environment running on my laptop inside a virtual machine, it is a full zOS installation I believe.

I will experiment with anything you can suggest and let you know how I get on. My goal is to build knowledge and skills so I can become a successful Systems programmer ;)

Thank you!
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Re: Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment

 

Re: Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment

Postby steve-myers » Sun Aug 03, 2014 1:24 am

Most of what a systems programmer does any more is
  • Problem analysis

    This is problem analysis following some sort of system problem. Your goal is to identify the failing module. Since we do not have source, that's about all we can do, and possibly gather enough information to match an apparent problem with a known problem.
  • Maintenance installation

    Use SMP and related tools to install maintenance. If SMP identifies problems, how to obtain corrective service and install it.
  • Product installation using SMP.
  • Data management. You will be amazed to find out how much data management tasks you perform. In terms of time spent, this bullet probably should be the first bullet!
Notice the omission of "programming." A solid understanding about how the system works - much of which is acquired by programming - is important in problem analysis. In truth, systems programmers spend very little time actually programming.

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Re: Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment

Postby deucalion0 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:02 am

Thanks for your explanation of a systems programmer role. I have noticed that sysprogs at my shop do tend to solve issues and fire fight more than anything else. I do believe that installing products is a great way to learn my way around zOS. Steve, do you know of any free third party products which I can install in order to help me get some experience!?

Cheers again for your time.
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Re: Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment

Postby steve-myers » Sun Aug 03, 2014 5:07 am

deucalion0 wrote:... do you know of any free third party products ...
Dream on. There are a large number of "free" products at http://www.cbttape.org, but I've never encountered one that was SMP installable.
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Re: Looking for ideas to utilise my IBM RDZ environment

Postby steve-myers » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:46 am

deucalion0 wrote:... I have noticed that sysprogs at my shop do tend to solve issues and fire fight more than anything else. ...
In your place I'd try to assist the other sysprogs when they go into fire fighting mode or issue solving mode. Just try to not get in their way. There can be a lot of boring work in this. 40 some years ago I worked with an excellent analyzer who was convinced most problems could be resolved by a thorough understanding of the messages in SYSLOG. Many times he was right, too!

I wouldn't get too hyper about SMP. There is a significant learning curve learning how to use it, but once you have learned how to use it you will find it's pretty mechanical. Most of the learning curve is finding out how it is setup for your environment.

For the purposes of installing maintenance or products, remember there are 3 phases.
  • RECEIVE - you "receive" the product or maintenance into the SMP "global" zone.
  • APPLY - you "apply" the product or maintenance into one or more "target" zones. An APPLY is usually done twice. First you do an APPLY CHECK. This tests the data base component to see if there are issues, but it does not actually modify anything. One real problem with APPLY CHECK is many times you are doing several related things that have to be done one step at a time in a particular order. You can do the APPLY CHECK for the first part. Usually the next step needs a previous step to be complete, but APPLY CHECK, remember, doesn't actually do anything. Once you have done the APPLY CHECK, you do the real APPLY. Here's where you can get into trouble: all too often there is some sort of trouble and you have to scramble to correct it. The more you know about the the major utilities and the Binder, the better off you are. In theory, though not always in practice, material that has been "applied" can be backed out.
  • ACCEPT - ACCEPT loads the updated service into DLIB data sets. Most shops do not "accept" maintenance, but do "accept" products.

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