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x 3270 Reloaded Conquering the Mainframe Abhay Pradhan Aditya Godbole Infosys Technologies Limited. Agenda. Mainframes – An evolving dinosaur? Mainframe projects in Indian IT Companies x3270 – Background Pros / Cons of x3270 Deployment within Infosys X-ite : x3270 on Cygwin Statistics
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Conquering the Mainframe
Infosys Technologies Limited
Mainframes – An evolving dinosaur?
Mainframe projects in Indian IT Companies
x3270 – Background
Pros / Cons of x3270
Deployment within Infosys
X-ite : x3270 on Cygwin
The road ahead
Fact: More than 70 % of the world's data still resides on mainframes.
Fact: Business verticals such as airlines, railways, banks and financial institutions continue to use mainframes
Fact: IBM with its zSeries is actively pushing Linux on the mainframe.
Fact: With terabytes of data to deal with, corporations still prefer a centralized data processing center rather than a distributed client server model.
Numerous projects came in during the Y2K scare
This in turn led to a lot of repeat business
Mainframe Projects are still in the pipeline
Broadly Categorized into
Systems re-engineering (Database Migration, MQSeries, CICS Web Services)
Conversion from one language to another
Suits the Global Delivery Model that Infosys follows
Various commercial software is used such as Extra Personal Client (EPClient) and Mochasoft.
These proprietary clients cost money.
To achieve quality standards (SEI CMM-5), projects have to ensure that they have the required number of software licenses.
Affects the operating margin of projects.
x3270 is an IBM 3270 terminal emulator for the X Window System
x3270 runs over a TELNET connection, emulating either an IBM 3279 (color) or 3278 (monochrome)
x3270 can also be used to access AS400 systems
x3270 is distributed as source code and can be used for free.
Current maintainer – Paul Mattes
Website - http://x3270.bgp.nu/
TN3270E protocol is fully supported
Can be compiled with SSL
Russian, Turkish, Hebrew, Chinese and Japanese character sets supported
IND$FILE file transfer
Scrollbar to view previous screens (helpful for viewing maps)
Save screenshots to a text file
Excellent scripting facilities
Pop up keypad with 3270 specific keys
x3270 compiles and runs under Cygwin
Cygwin was already being used within Infosys as an alternative to Exceed
A category (101-Infosys) was created for the installer to allow easy installation
Dependencies were taken care of. Clicking on x3270 automatically selected all packages which x3270 needed (changed Cygwin's setup.ini)
Started actively pushing x3270 as an alternative to commercial mainframe clients
Excellent scripting facilities. Scripts could be written in any language
Highly configurable. Users could map x3270 specific actions to keys they were comfortable with. e.g. We mapped Ctrl-F to do a find within ISPF
Can be tailored to suit Infosys's needs
Active community support, a lot faster than calling the Customer Care of commercial clients
GUI uses a very old toolkit (Xt). Look and feel is different than windows
Dependency on Cygwin: users need to be comfortable with another application
Screen resizing is a problem
Fonts are an issue. Does not use scalable fonts
Windows users prefer a point and click approach to configure any application. In x3270, the config file has to be edited by hand
One fine day,we decided to start improving x3270
Started adding features slowly
Spreadsheet compatibility mode
Scripting API in Perl written
Macro recording framework
Cygwin post install scripts for x3270 to give users a default working x3270 installation
Ported other packages to Cygwin
Xdialog package ported over to Cygwin
along with its Perl wrapper UIDialog
Wrote simple scripts to demonstrate scripting flexibility
Created a new package X-ite which would automatically install and configure x3270
Enhancements were made after discussions with Paul Mattes and the patches have been submitted to him
Even submitted an x3270 bug to him :)
The macro recording framework had to be
Consistent with the existing functionality
Should not have any external dependencies
Could be deployed with ease
Default paths and
conversion script name
x3270 pipes data using two environment variables
This allows us flexibility in selecting any language to push data to and fro x3270. We chose Perl
Two basic scripting modes
Peer scripting: runs x3270 as a child of another process
Child scripting: x3270 Script() command
One “talks” to x3270 with the help of “commands” i.e. emulator actions such as Connect(), String(“foo”) etc.
x3270 always sends back a status message
Thus using a combination of Perl + x3270 scripting commands one can automate a lot of tasks
Packaged x3270 with a new name, X-ite
X-ite is a community project within Infosys following the Bazaar model:
The developers have never met!
No hierarchy within the project :)
With InfyLUG's help, developed a webpage for X-ite
Dedicated IRC channel
CVS repository for X-ite development
Mailing list to push out X-ite news as well as to handle X-ite related queries
Call center for X-ite? :)
Currently around 100 users are using X-ite
X-ite has actually spiked Cygwin usage (~= 400 users)
Estimated savings to Infosys is approximately:
100 users x $1000 (per license) = $100,000
X-ite following the Debian model, changes move from:
Unstable (personal machines) to
Testing (102-Infosys) and finally
The features we added are currently in testing.
Push X-ite as the default mainframe client to trainees
Submit more patches/bugs to Paul
Port Tcl/Tk to Cygwin to decrease dependency on UIDialog
X-ite does not have an in built ftp client..
More scripts to be written in Perl
Certain projects cannot install X-ite because of firewall restrictions.. Cygwin CD with X-ite?
X-ite configurator (written in Qt)
Linux Bangalore 2004, for allowing us a chance to talk
Infosys, for sponsoring us
Mahendra and Natarajan, (InfyLUG) for website space, CVS access and a lot of hand holding.
Rajesh, for letting us fiddle around with his precious Cygwin mirrors and the Cygwin installer
Toufeeq, for being the uncomplaining dogsbody, trying to port various packages to cygwin
Project mates at Hyd who have been our beta testers, never complaining when X-ite crashed due to our changes
Our respective PM's for allowing us the freedom to do this project