For Those About to Merge, We Support You


(Repost from November 12, 2021)

Data set merge capability for installation will be available, without any gaps.  

I hope that you’ve noticed the latest 4Q enhancement to z/OS V2.5 that were just released today here. Attention to z/OS V2.5 installers! There’s a section of particular note for those interested in the data set merge function. But first, let’s take a step or two backwards…

In March 2021, we announced that we’d be moving z/OS V2.5 ServerPac into the new z/OSMF portable software instance format. We also indicated that we’d keep both the traditional CustomPac Dialog ServerPac as a choice, along with the z/OSMF ServerPac, until z/OS V2.4 was withdrawn from marketing which was planned for January 2022. In other words, for z/OS V2.5 you would have choice on how you wanted to install your z/OS V2.5 ServerPac between September 2021 and January 2022: CustomPac Dialog or z/OSMF.  

Then, in September 2021 Statements of Direction, we announced that we still had some functions to add to the z/OSMF ServerPac for certain types of users, both of which were available in CustomPac Dialog, but not yet in z/OSMF ServerPac: 

  • those that needed the data set merge function, and
  • those that wished to use a new master catalog and needed follow-on support for export disconnecting the new master catalog from the driving system. 

In September 2021, we GA’d z/OS V2.5, and there was the choice for a ServerPac install method offered through Shopz:  CustomPac Dialog or z/OSMF.  We’ve been happy to see that so many have chosen to install z/OS V2.5 with z/OSMF! And I’m happy to also note that some customers ordered z/OS V2.5 both ways — belt and suspenders, my kind of person!

Now, that brings us to today, and the rather imminent removal of marketing for z/OS V2.4 from Shopz planned for January 2022. Also, notably the data set merge function is not yet available. This is the one function that some customers cannot easily do without. This situation presented a gap in the data set merge capability. What should be done?

In order to ensure that those customers who really must have the ability to perform data set merges during the installation of z/OS V2.5, we decided that the CustomPac Dialog must be extended beyond the planned January 2022 date. Meaning, because some customers need to perform data set merges during the installation of z/OS V2.5, the CustomPac Dialog will still be available and will provide that necessary function.

I know the big question now is, when will CustomPac Dialog be removed, if it is not to be in January 2022? The answer to that question really lies in two dependencies which must be met before CustomPac Dialog can be removed as a ServerPac installation method (not just for z/OS V2.5, but for all IBM Shopz products that install with ServerPac: CICS, Db2, IMS, MQ, …). Those dependencies are:

  1. the z/OSMF Software Management function itself needs to deliver the data set merge capability in APAR PH42028.
  2. Then, your z/OSMF portable software instance can be created with this data set merge capability integrated into your Shopz order.

For the first dependency, APAR PH42048 is planned to be available in April 2022.  Moving to the second dependency, that capability will be announced in the 2Q 2022 Announcement. It is not anticipated that it would be long after the 2Q 2022 Announcement that the CustomPac Dialog installation method will be discontinued, so my best and most conservative advice, is do not plan on having CustomPac Dialog as a Shopz option after the 2Q 2022. By preparing now, and anticipating that installation of z/OS V2.5 after 2Q22 will likely be only with z/OSMF, removal of the CustomPac Dialog installation method will not impact you.

It absolutely goes without saying, I would also strongly advise that if you do not need data set merge function, you continue with your plans to use z/OSMF as the installation method as originally intended from January 2022 onwards.

What have I learned from the z/OS V2.5 portable software instance being available now for over two months, and hearing feedback from many? Those that did a minimal amount of education are faring nicely. Minimum amount of education is:

  • Have validated that they have all the necessary z/OSMF PTFs installed on their driving system, which are identified with the SMP/E FIXCAT IBM.DrivingSystem-RequiredService.
  • Know how to logon to z/OSMF and basically how to click on and perform a Workflow step.
  • Have a z/OS V2.3 or V2.4 software instance defined, so that you can model your z/OS V2.5 system on it. This takes no longer than two minutes to do.
  • Know if you want to define a new master catalog, or use the driving system’s master catalog ahead of time, so you can start down the right path in z/OSMF Software Management.
  • Possibly, if you want to watch the user interface in action, go to very short videos here. (These videos don’t show the new master catalog path, but show the path through an entire software installation, with the entertaining and knowledgeable Kurt Quackenbush!) 
  • Bonus points! Try to install a very small z/OSMF portable software instance (found here), so terms like “portable software instance”, “deploy”, and “temporary catalog alias” are somewhat familiar. 

As always, we are here to help you learn about installing a z/OSMF portable software instance, which is the common direction for installation from the major z/OS software vendors. Please reach out if you need any help!