Transform mainframe applications into z/OS Java services with end-to-end transaction visibility and anomaly detection (Preview)

Dynatrace end-to-end transaction visibility for Java applications on z/OS with automated anomaly detection allows you to build efficient and robust business services.

Business, finance, and administrative applications written in the common business-oriented language (COBOL) have run tirelessly on IBM Z systems since the early 1960s. Although these COBOL applications operate with consistent performance, companies and governments are forced to transform them to new platforms and rewrite them in modern programming languages (like Java) for several reasons.

  • COBOL applications must be processed on expensive general processors, while Java applications are eligible to run on IBM Z specialty processors such as zIIPs. Processing capacity associated with zIIPs isn’t subject to license costs and maintenance fees. Thus, implementing applications in Java can result in considerable financial savings.
  • Hiring mainframe programmers with COBOL skills is challenging nowadays as most of them have retired, whereas Java expertise is widely available. Only recently, the governor of New Jersey asked mainframe programmers at a press conference to volunteer in equipping the state’s legacy application for recording unemployment insurance so that they could handle the load during COVID-19.

Transform your mainframe applications into state-of-the-art business services with Dynatrace

The Dynatrace Software Intelligence Platform supports you on your way to the cloud with deep insights into containerized, scalable microservices on cutting-edge technologies like Red Hat OpenShift or Kubernetes. Also, unlike traditional application performance monitoring solutions, Dynatrace accompanies you in transforming your mainframe applications into state-of-the-art business services, thereby significantly reducing license costs and solving the bottleneck of skilled developer resources.

A prerequisite for such a transformation is to understand the program chain, dependencies, and performance implications of mainframe applications. With the Dynatrace CICS SDK and IMS SDK for z/OS, mainframe programmers can instrument their applications written in Assembler, C, COBOL, or PL/I to gain those required insights. A software architect from one of our mainframe customers highlights this capability:

“The novel insight into our COBOL applications with Dynatrace CICS SDK is triggering true enthusiasm among mainframe programmers who have already seen it. This insight lays the required foundation for our modernization process.” – A mainframe architect

With the release of OneAgent 1.197, we’re announcing the Preview of our proven, end-to-end transaction visibility and automated anomaly detection for Java applications running on the z/OS WebSphere Application Server and on z/OS WebSphere Liberty. These capabilities allow you to build efficient and robust business services on the mainframe.

See everything in context: Your Java applications in hybrid mainframe environments

Transforming mainframe applications into new business services possibly linked to distributed systems or to an cloud increases the complexity of hybrid mainframe environments. Keeping the overview in such complex environments is only possible with a holistic end-to-end perspective. Dynatrace provides end-to-end transaction visibility by automatically discovering and mapping each transaction with our AI-powered solution.

The topology example below illustrates how Dynatrace Smartscape automatically discovers and establishes dependencies for the web request services of WebSphere Liberty running on a z/OS host. Interactions with different queues and other technologies as well as outgoing web requests to other hosts are detected out of the box.

Smartscape topology of the web request services of WebSphere Liberty running on a z/OS host

Transactional insight about the discovered services is visualized through the service flow. this includes the sequence of service calls that are triggered by each service request in your environment. Understanding of the processing chain of service requests is an especially essential insight during a mainframe application modernization process.

Dynatrace OneAgent automatically connects IBM technologies like CICS, CICS Transaction Gateway, IMS, IMS SOAP Gateway, MQ, as well as DB2 and DL/I databases without any additional configuration. The service flow example below shows how incoming service requests executed on z/OS WebSphere Liberty are processed by different IBM technologies and is enriched with various metrics (such as the request count distribution).

  • The selected service flow traverses the CICS Transaction Gateway followed by interactions with different CICS regions, finally triggering a database service in DB2.
  • The IMS service flow traverses the IMS SOAP Gateway and different IMS regions, finally hitting a DL/I database.

Service flow of incoming service requests executed on z/OS WebSphere Liberty

Understand the performance of your Java applications and automatically detected anomalies

To evaluate the performance and availability of your business services, it’s crucial to track the response time contribution and failure rate of each request within each end-to-end transaction. Dynatrace provides you the response times and failure rates across all requests at a glance so that you can focus on those with anomalies.

In the service analysis example below, you can see that Dynatrace has detected, in real time, two business service hotspots that must be addressed immediately to keep customer impact low.

  • The administration center has a failure rate of 100 percent, which means that customers can’t access the back end anymore.
  • A servlet struggles with high consumption of service resources and slow response time, which may result in a performance degradation of that service.

Service analysis with hotspots

The Dynatrace Software Intelligence Platform not only points you to current hotspots, it also automatically identifies the root causes. As you can see in the failure request analysis below, the administration center is not available because of a JDBC exception. Based on this root cause analysis and the provided exception stacktrace, Java developers have the ability to correct this service outage quickly.

Failed request analysis showing root cause

How to participate in the Preview

If you’re interested in this Preview, and your environment meets the requirements, please complete this enrollment form. Once you’ve filled in and submitted the required details, you’ll be contacted by Dynatrace.

The minimum version requirements for your environment are:

  • IBM WebSphere Application Server for z/OS version 8.5.5
  • IBM WebSphere Liberty for z/OS version 18.0.0.1
  • IBM Java version 7
  • Dynatrace version 1.198
  • Dynatrace OneAgent version 1.197
  • Dynatrace ActiveGate version 1.197

Note: Please be aware that not all who register for the Preview will make it to the final list; we may run out of Preview slots. If you have questions regarding the Preview, see Previews and Early Adopter releases.

What’s next

With Dynatrace OneAgent on z/OS, we’ve laid the foundation for tailoring and optimizing Java applications for hybrid mainframe environments.

But that’s not all; we’ve also planned to add support for:

  • z/OS Connect Enterprise Edition
  • JDBC database connections
  • JMS messaging
  • Metrics for WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Liberty

We’re also working on a Dynatrace distributed tracing technology based on W3C Trace Context that will provide the next level of end-to-end visibility beyond mainframe observability.

Stay tuned!

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