z/OS 3.1: This cat has left its bag

Some preliminary information about z/OS 3.1

z/OS 3.1 is a cat out of the bag!  With this week's GA Announcement, early customers running on the release and the planning materials being ready, it's a great time to talk about at what is in store.

In this post, I'll put some information which I think might be specifically important to z/OS System Programmers as they anticipate ordering and deploying this new z/OS version.  Do notice, there are lots of enhancements for lots of different kinds of people, so my list certainly isn't complete.

1.  Planned General Availability is Sept 29, 2023.  Because z/OS is now version 3, do notice that we'll have a new program number, 5655-ZOS.  It's been a while since we had a new program number, so remember that it won't just sail by Shopz as you will not (yet) be entitled to that program number. This means the unfortunate situation of the first time you order 5655-ZOS, you'll be passed to a human for entitlement.  But the upside is that this will happen only one time if you keep your priced features the same.  Meaning, please do plan a little extra time for ordering.  

2.  The Semeru (Java) requirements for z/OS 3.1 are different than z/OS V2.5!  This seems to have caught several folks off guard before GA.  At GA for z/OS 3.1, the planned requirement is that most z/OS functions that need Java, have a requirement for IBM Semeru Runtime Certified Edition for z/OS, Version 11 ("Semeru 11").  Some z/OS 3.1 functions still require the older Java, IBM 31-bit SDK for z/OS V8 ("Java 8 31-bit") for a very short time until their Semeru 11 support is available.  Check the z/OS 3.1 Planning for Installation book, Appendix B carefully.  (This will mean your java_home directory will need to change for some functions.)  

    - Then, later in the lifecycle of z/OS 3.1, it is planned that we will have to move our Java dependency to the follow-on release to Semeru 11, which is planned to be Semeru 17.  Stay tuned for more on that later.  The reason for this change?  The Java lifecycle is shorter than our own z/OS lifecycle.  

    - While you are on Shopz, you will see bypassable ordering requirement(s) for Java.  Recognize the z/OS requirements and decide what you will do.  It is likely that most people will order the Java bypassable requisites with z/OS 3.1, and I think that is a good thing to do.

     - Notice, this entire topic is about the z/OS functional dependency on Java, and has nothing to do with your applications' dependency on Java.  Your applications can use any level of Java they need to on z/OS 3.1, but I'll recommend they use a supported level, of course.  

3. Features have moved around on z/OS 3.1.  While we were on the version boundary, we did some feature moving.  You'll want to be aware of this, especially if you are looking on Shopz for something you used to see. Here's the highlights:

    - DFSMStvs is now part of the base.  It was a priced feature, but it is available at no additional cost.  

    - Communications Server Security Level 3 is merged into z/OS Security Level 3.  That means there is only one export controlled non-priced feature on z/OS now.  Much easier to order when there is only one!

    - JES3 and BDT features are gone.  

    - XML Toolkit (at level V1.11)  has been added to z/OS 3.1 as a base element.  You cannot order the standalone XML Toolkit product with z/OS 3.1.  Nor would you want to, as it's included.  

    - z/OS Alternate Base (did you know we even had one?) has been removed.  This was for those that didn't use IBM's z/OS Communication Server function, but with the passage of time, we've needed Communications Server for anything even slightly modern.  No need to keep it around anymore.  

4.  z/OS 3.1 Upgrade Workflow is available via a PTF, identified with the SMP/E FIXCAT of IBM.Coexistence.z/OS.3.1.  It still has the z/OS V2.5 book links in it, and we've got a couple of extra minor steps we are planning to add, but you can get it to start evaluating your upgrade now.  We have another APAR planned post-GA to change to the 3.1 book links, so keep your eyes on that FIXCAT.  The Workflow is found in your target system's /usr/lpp/bcp/upgrade, just select the upgrade path you want.  There have been some nice enhancements in this level of the Workflow:

     - Steps are organized now by the chronological order in which you do them.  Not by element.

    - The HW steps have been put into their own separate Workflow, same directory.  Most people didn't do HW and SW upgrades at the same time, so we didn't want to clutter up the SW Workflow with the HW steps.  

    -  REPORT MISSINGIX for coexistence verification can be run directly from the Workflow step.  

    - If you have already processed a HOLD ACTION during the installation of a PTF, and that HOLD ACTION became an upgrade action, we will automatically skip that step for you.   This actually is a common situation for a z/OS release.  With this detection, the number of steps to do can be greatly reduced.  

    Note:  We do not plan to provide the usual export of the z/OS 3.1 Upgrade Workflow on the IBM Documentation site until the post-GA APAR has been released.  I'd strongly encourage you to use the "native" z/OSMF format of the Workflow for programmatic verification simplification.  Or, if you really need a single flat file, you can create the exported Workflow yourself (Actions -> Export Workflow as Printable Format).

5.I'll definitely be blogging more about specific functions in z/OS 3.1, but for now, you can get a lot of new function information from the IBM Education Assistant.    These are short soup-to-nuts PDFs about new functions, presented in a structured manner.  

6.  Because I know I'll be asked these questions, I'll put the answers here.  z/OS 3.1 must run on z14 and higher.   Yes, if you are installing z/OS 3.1 with a ServerPac, your driving system requirement is z/OSMF.  z/OS 3.1 is available on a CBPDO still.  

7.  When you acquire your z/OS 3.1 system, why not verify that the package really came from IBM, and was indeed, the package we sent?  Check out my prior post to learn about product package signing.  

7.  Speaking of FIXCATs...they are all ready to go for z/OS 3.1!  My favorites are IBM.Coexistence.z/OS.3.1 and IBM.TargetSystem-RequiredService.z/OS.3.1. Load up the latest Enhnaced HOLDDATA, and let those cats enjoy your CSI.