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Thursday, 20 November 2014 23:13

Chasing the Z/Linux market: A SUSECon attendee's tale


When Roger Williams wanted to increase the market for ShadowDisk/Z, a product made by the little Gainesville-based company he works for, he headed to meet the experts, those at SUSE Linux which has something like three-quarters of the market for all Z/Linux customers.

The company, Virtual Software Solutions (VSS), already has a product called VPARS (Virtual Private Active Record Shadowing) in the market, which enables programmers to develop production software more efficiently. It is an enhancement to z/VM that allows guest virtual machines to share a z/TPF or TPF system base for testing. TPF or Transaction Processing Facility is an operating system developed by IBM.

Z/Linux is the port that runs on IBM System Z mainframe systems.

Williams (seen above) told iTWire on the sidelines of SUSECon 2014, the third annual conference of SUSE, which is being held in Orlando, Florida, this week, that the new product, ShadowDisk/Z, allowed shared development and testing of z/Linux application code in an z/VM environment. Several developers could share a z/Linux filesystem - including updates to that filesystem - without actually altering the base system.

ShadowDisk/Z reduced the number of backups and restores that are needed right now to support application development environments and also cut the number of z/Linux instances needed to support application development, he added.

While VPARS is widely used, ShadowDisk/Z is not yet in use on production sites. And it was to seek customers that Williams turned up at SUSECon this week, looking either to benefit directly through SUSE's customers or else their resellers.

"I wanted to get the word out to the Linux community," said Williams. "I wanted to network with the SUSE people as z/Linux is a growing market."

He said that he had met a few people and their responses had indicated that there was interest in ShadowDisk/Z, which was developed to effect a drastic reduction in disk utilisation.

Describing the product's operation, Williams said: "ShadowDisk/Z provides a filesystem (VDISK) database supporting the reading and writing of all application data to a filesystem. Application data read requests are satisfied through either the VDISK database or from the base filesystem if not already in VDISK.

"Application data writes are sent to the VDISK database and the underlying base filesystem is not altered. Hence, multiple applications can see all filesystem changes even the underlying base filesystem has not been changed.

"The input-output operations are handled by ShadowDisk/Z code residing in z/VM and are transparent to application code and the z/Linux system."

Williams, a native of New York City, who is based in Charlestown, New Hampshire, is hopeful that his visit to SUSECon will bear some fruit and the 30-year-old VSS will have a second product yielding the sales that the 10-member outfit needs.

Disclosure: The writer is attending SUSECon in Orlando, Florida, as a guest of SUSE.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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