Questions for the mainframe commmunity: Ruby, RACF?

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Questions for the mainframe commmunity: Ruby, RACF?

Last week James McGovern from The Hartford posted some questions, some of which concern the mainframe.chips

Initially I just posted some answers to my blog. But actually it makes sense to surface the questions here too. You guys are the experts right. So how about it? Ruby and RACF futures?

1. Does Ruby run on Z/OS? If not, anyone game to work with me to port it? Hopefully, if we port it, the folks in the media will tell the story of how open source can also be created by folks who work in large enterprises and not just software vendors.

3. Does anyone know of any open source equivalents to RACF? Ideally looking for something that plugs into the SAF interface.

4. When will EnterpriseDB run on Z/OS (other than on Linux on the host) or for that matter MySQL?

5. Anyone know of a COBOL SOAP stack? Not interested in all those fancy integration products

6. Any thoughts on how to integrate SXORE and/or Infocard with RACF?

7. As I understand, the Mono Project now runs on the mainframe. Should folks in the enterprise consider running .NET applications there?

I tend to think the notion of a mainframe shop deciding to run an "open source equivalent of RACF" has two hopes- Bob Hope and No Hope. But note that James is not asking how to replace the mainframe, just how to do more interesting things with it.

Some might ask why James is both critiquing Ruby, and asking for porting help. Well I guess its called being a contrarian. So do any of you know about Ruby on z? I suggested Netrexx but that's of course answering a direct question with an alternative... never a great look.

by James Governor March 20, 2006 in Application Development


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Taking these in order:

1. A port of Ruby to z/OS UNIX System Services (USS) doesn't look too terribly difficult. There might be some patches required to make the original source code conform to pure ANSI and POSIX standards (which is what USS supports), but there shouldn't be any real impediments here.

3. I don't, but I'm not sure what the value would be. Every z/OS shop has to have one of the three SAF security products (RACF, TopSecret, or ACF2) just to turn the lights on, so to speak. RACF, for example, has every feature you could possibly imagine (including LDAP, tons of PKI support, etc.), and it's trusted and bulletproof.

4. There's a lot of stuff the open source databases don't do that are really essential on z/OS (e.g. Parallel Sysplex). That said, any of the Java-based databases should run unmodified, and the non-Java ones could follow the same route as Ruby.

5. How about CICS 3.1? It's got a very nice SOAP stack, it's "free" (included with CICS 3.1), and it's easy.

6. Re: SXORE, all I could figure out is that it's based on SXIP which in turn is based on DIX, all of which are acronyms for some very bleeding edge software that looks (at the moment) like it's all stillborn because a lot of bloggers don't like it. There does appear to be a Java implementation of SXIP, and that would run on z/OS unmodified one would think. SXORE/SXIP appear to eschew digital certificates (which RACF supports in spades). There's some information that suggests SXIP will integrate with LDAP (and thus probably RACF), so that might be one avenue. Infocard looks like Microsoft's very proprietary spin on this technology area. All that said, I would look at IBM's Tivoli Federated Identity Management (FIM) and, yes, the Magic 8 Ball says keep an eye on FIM specifically with respect to z/OS. (Hint: FIM is J2EE.)

7. Microsoft .NET is not a good idea by itself IMHO -- Microsoft has no interest whatsoever in portability, one of the central design points for J2EE. Quite the opposite, actually. That said, if you must run something .NET (because somebody else made a mistake), sure, use Mono to run it on mainframes. It'll probably be Linux, but since the Mono source is available for UNIX flavors it could be recompiled to z/OS USS. Mainsoft already has something along these lines, actually. Look up Grasshopper and Visual MainWin for J2EE. Yes, Mainsoft is promoting conversion and rehosting of .NET applications onto z/OS and Linux.

Posted by: Timothy | Mar 23, 2006 2:51:45 AM

ah cheers timothy. appreciate your feedback muchly.

Posted by: James Governor | Apr 4, 2006 11:34:23 AM

and yes the 3.1 gateway is yet another best kept secret

Posted by: James Governor | Apr 4, 2006 11:35:05 AM

You might want to take a look at JRuby for running Ruby scripts on the mainframe. Take advantage of those zAAP engines...

Posted by: Andrew Bober | Dec 16, 2006 1:51:58 PM

Re: #3, I believe DEADBOLT from JME Software is a SAF security product, able to substitute for any of the other three. It's not open source, but it adds a third vendor and fourth product to this market segment.

Posted by: Timothy | Jul 3, 2007 10:19:48 PM

I need to create member level security within ACF2 and we have never gone that detailed... can yuo send me examples on how to give a member in a pds access and another member prevent in the same pds as I need to grant access (write) to several different members to several different groups all in the same pds. Thanks

Posted by: spirit | Mar 10, 2008 2:03:14 PM

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