It’s hard to believe that it has been a whole year since IBM Z APM Connect was first released. Immediately following Jonah Kowall, Nathan Brice, and Aaron Young’s kickoff presentation at AppDynamics Summit 2017 there was a rush of interest from customers across a variety of industries. I am happy to report that level of interest has not dissipated over the course of the last 12 months. Excitement and engagement from customers has been a huge driver behind the rapid pace our development team has embraced, and their hard work means we have a lot to discuss with regards to our 4Q18 release as well as some projects on the horizon we’re delighted to share.

Features Included in the Final Release of 2018

Expansion of IMS Support
To remain as agile as possible, the very first release of Z APM Connect was quite limited in scope with a focus on CICS and MQ. We took a look at the most popular subsystems and worked quickly to deliver support so we could begin learning from our users and growing the product in parallel. We knew the next critical milestone for us would be expanding our IMS coverage, and included in our 4Q18 release is a significant leap forward with coverage for IMS Transaction Manager Resource Adaptor. Our added support for IMS TMRA joins our existing support for IMS User Written Clients, two of the largest IMS flavors being used on mainframes today, to equip an even greater amount of AppDynamics users with a true end-to-end view.   

AppDynamics Flow Map showing Z APM Connect support for IMS TMRA

Our flow map has just about doubled in size during our first year, and it’s only going to get bigger during 2019. For IMS customers, we’re already working on expanding what we already offer to further refine your transaction tracking abilities. As always, if you have a critical flow you don’t see here, please feel free to drop me a note. If this is the first you’ve heard of Z APM Connect or you’ve been considering the solution since we first announced, we want to open a dialogue about how this product can best serve your team. We’re working with customers and prospective buyers on a daily basis to understand their requirements so we can add the coverage they need.

Overview of support provided by Z APM Connect as of December 2018

Critical Modernizations & Improvements
We’ve also tackled some less exciting house keeping in our 4Q18 release that ensures Z APM customers are covered as they modernize their mainframe environments. We’ve shifted away from the common storage method we’re currently using with our containers and data providers to one more robustly supported by future version of z/OS. In the lab, we also discovered a small hiccup in tracking that occurred occasionally when MQ had to be restarted. A fix is included in this release, and MQ tracking should no longer be impacted by restarts. 

Ensuring High Availability
For many of our customers, ensuring high availability across the board is essential. Z APM’s Chief Architect, Aaron Young published a great write up of how you can ensure the product is highly available by configuring a pair of Transaction Tracking Gateways in an active/standby manner. In the article, he clearly walks you through the process of configuration using an open-source load balancer example that can be applied to whatever load balancer you’re already using inside your organization. This added redundancy will help ensure your mainframe visibility is always up and running. Click here to learn more about how you can ensure your mainframe visibility is highly available.

What’s on the Horizon for Z APM Connect?

First Look at z/OS Connect Support
Let’s shift our focus to a few of the exciting additions we have on our roadmap for 2019. We will continue our continuous delivery release schedule, so be on the look out for something new from us every few months. The lab has a number of big projects they’ve been working hard on for many months, including the ability to track transactions through z/OS Connect in AppDynamics with Z APM Connect. 

AppDynamics Flow Map showing Z APM Connect support for z/OS Connect

I’ve heard directly from customers how excited they are to have the ability to expose applications and data through RESTful APIs and enhance their existing mainframe apps by calling external APIs. Our teams have been collaborating for a number of months with current z/OS Connect customers to design and build support in Z APM Connect that ensures AppDynamics users can quickly identify performance deviations potentially stemming from z/OS Connect. 

Our teams are still putting the finishing touches on this exciting new addition, but anyone looking for a sneak peek of the support can check out our hosted beta environment. Just drop me a note (nicole.nemec@ibm.com), and we’ll get you set up with access right away. 

Additional 2019 Roadmap Items
2018 was a great first year for Z APM Connect, and we expect even more growth in 2019 with what we have planned. A few weeks ago, Z APM’s Chief Architect Aaron Young, Vice President of Market Development and Insights at AppDynamics Jonah Kowall, and myself discussed the success we’ve had so far and the future of our partnership in a webinar. If you missed it live, you can view a replay of the conversation after you register at this link.

Just in time for Christmas, we’re aiming to finally launch Z APM Connect on IBM’s Z Trial platform by the end of this year. These are free, on-demand environments with easy-to-follow walkthroughs that make trying out the latest IBM Z software easier than ever. Check out the Z Trials currently available for z/OS Connect, OMEGAMON for JVM, IBM Service Management Unite, and many more.

To get updated when the Z APM trial is live, as well as learn about other important product announcements, there are a variety of ways you can get connected. 

The entire Z APM Connect development team wishes you a safe and warm holiday season! At this joyous time of year, we are grateful for our work with you. We’re all looking forward to what’s to come in 2019. 

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