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Free, self-provisioned, sandbox environments enable users to work with COBOL code on IBM z/OS.

Several people have approached me in the past few weeks looking to experience the latest solutions for working with COBOL code on IBM z/OS. At face value, this seems like it should be a simple request. One of the biggest challenges of demonstrating new mainframe technologies is figuring out exactly how to get your hands on an environment. A sandbox system needs to be isolated, so any changes made while exploring won’t break another user. Then there is the logistical hurdle of the amount of time needed to install front-end clients, back-end servers, and perhaps even middleware components. A “simple” proof-of-concept may not be so simple. Enter IBM Z software trials.

IBM Z trials are available to demonstrate selected solutions. They are free, self-provisioned, sandbox environments that live for three days. Need more time than that? No problem — provision another one after your first trial dies. Trials include all of the necessary pieces from the front-end to the back-end, and they are isolated so users cannot impact one another. And each trial contains multiple scenarios with step-by-step guidance on what to do.

The solution I turn to for IBM Z DevOps is the IBM Z Open Development Trial, which demonstrates key DevOps technologies using a combination of open source and IBM tools. The user starts by loading COBOL code from a Git repository into IBM Developer for z/OS. After modifying the code, it is built by IBM Dependency Based Build (DBB), and then deployed to z/OS using Jenkins.

Another popular one is the IBM Application Discovery and Delivery Intelligence (ADDI) Trial, which demonstrates how to quickly get insights into an enterprise application involving multiple COBOL programs, CICS transactions, database updates, and the like. Instead of requiring you to manually read all the code and understand how everything fits together, this trial shows you how to use ADDI to quickly diagram the end-to-end application flow. Using the generated diagrams, developers can understand interdependencies and anticipate the effects of their code changes.

These are just two of the available IBM Z trials. Follow these links to explore the entire catalog of offerings and experience new technologies for yourself: