I was chatting to Tony Amies, product architect at William Data Systems, about the best way to get information from a mainframe (and about what’s happening on that mainframe) out to someone who has access to a browser. He had a number of nifty techniques that I’d like to share with you.
Assuming you want to get the information from your mainframe to a browser, your first really big decision is do you want to go with two-tier architecture, or do you want to go with three-tier architecture? Tony’s advice was that two-tier was enough.
That leads to the second really important decision to be made, which is where should the processing take place? You’ve got to look at what needs to be done and then make a choice about which platform does that work best on. So, for example, and perhaps quite obviously, if you want to monitor what’s going on with IP, FTP, or EE (Enterprise Extender) on your mainframe, you want that processing to take place on the mainframe. That all seems fairly easy!
But what do you want to do with your results from those different monitors (and indeed any other monitoring software you have running)? Do you want to look like mission control and have a 3270 screen for each monitor that’s running. Now, I remember how impressed visitors used to be when they saw something like that, but if my plan is to get the information to laptop or tablet device running a browser, then I probably need to consolidate the different feeds first. And, again, I want to do that on the mainframe, in the same LPAR (Logical PARtition) that the monitors are running in. It makes sense because much less work has to be done than if I choose to send that data somewhere else for processing.
If you’re familiar with WDS products, you know about their ZEN monitor for their other products. They’re written in Assemble and C and they use a little DLL inside each product that talks to a DLL in ZEN and you can see a nice display of what’s going on – on everything. As a side note, using the DLLs allows the products to talk to each other, so that if the IP monitor spots something, then the IP trace tool can be used to investigate further.
For WDS, basically an object is requested from the browser by the user. This goes up to ZEN. Using JSON, a data object comes down and binds with the layout defined in the MVVM skeleton. As a user, you see dynamically updated information in your browser. If one new value affects other values, those other values are automatically update appropriately.
I’m not endorsing WDS’s products, I’m saying that they have very effectively made use of the very latest technology at the browser end to make their product work very efficiently. I’m suggesting that the two-tier architecture with really clever stuff on the browser side is definitely worth taking a look at.