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LongEx Mainframe Quarterly - May 2013

management: How Many Software Products Are There?

1906. That's right, there are around 1906 currently marketed software products that run on, or work with, z/OS, z/VM and z/VSE. But that's not all. There's another 227 such products that are supported, but not marketed. But what is perhaps more interesting is the number of vendors currently selling mainframe software: 246. To me that looks like a very healthy mainframe software market.

At the end of 2010, we at Longpela Expertise asked this same question: “how many mainframe software products are there?” At that time, we had been around the mainframe world for a long time, and together believed we knew most of the major mainframe software products on the market.

But at every new site we would find one or two more that we hadn't heard of. And more importantly, we would have to dig around to find out what it was, what it did, and who supported it. So we decided to do a survey to see how many we could find.

What followed was two years of hard work. Fitting in with our other commitments, we searched for mainframe products. And by “mainframe product”, we meant any software product that runs on the three major IBM mainframe operating systems (z/OS, z/VM and z/VSE), or other software that works with these operating systems. We searched through vendor websites and documentation, forums and user groups, advertisements, blogs, articles, trademark registrations, patent documents, and even court documents to find out past and present mainframe software. As we searched, we saw that some of this software had a rich history: moving from vendor to vendor, changing names, merging and separating. So we decided to include some of this information as well.

As the list grew, we saw that it would be invaluable to be able to compare software. So if you had one software product, you could quickly find other products that did something similar. This would be ideal for searching for a replacement for a product that is too expensive, or is discontinued. This functionality could be increased to search for other products that relate to a software product. We could even categorise each product, so you could look for all software to backup DB2 databases or all security administration tools available.

With every vendor website reviewed, we saw that in many cases, it was difficult for someone with no knowledge of the product to quickly find out what it did. In some cases, it took hours of research before we were comfortable we understood the product's purpose and features. So we needed another feature: a brief, plain English summary of each product.

As we continued to work, we acknowledged that the information we had to date was only our opinion. To be balanced, and confirm that we got it right, we needed vendor input. So we have approached every active vendor, offering them the opportunity to review and modify every entry before announcing the website - for free. We have also provided an opportunity for them to add their own opinion in a 'From the Vendor' section - again for free.

It's been a fascinating ride. We've unearthed some amazing products. For example, we found several products to execute mainframe workloads on UNIX or Microsoft Windows machines, products to manage and monitor the HMC, and software to manage and maintain postal addresses in databases. We also unearthed four products to migrate from CA-Easytrieve, one alternative product to SAS, and products to allow z/VSE applications to execute on z/OS.

We've also been amazed by the choice of mainframe products. For example, we discovered 14 database management systems, 29 programming languages, and 33 banking and finance applications.

The final result is www.lookupmainframesoftware.com. This site has grown from an initial question, to a rich directory of current and past mainframe software products. We have included the status of each product (active, supported, or not supported), categories, similar products, past and present vendors, and past and present names. We've included a search facility, and quick drop-downs to list software by starting letter, vendor or category. Where possible, we've included links to vendor pages, links to relevant Wikipedia pages, and replacement products where appropriate.

However the work doesn't end there. Software can change quickly, so our site is only valuable if the information is up to date. We think this website is a valuable tool for anyone working with mainframes, and so we have made a commitment to maintain it. We continue, and will continue, to welcome vendor and other SME comments. We have also developed tools to regularly and automatically check each entry. We will also be manually reviewing pages regularly.

We hope everyone enjoys, and find useful, lookupmainframesoftare.com.

David Stephens

LongEx Quarterly is a quarterly eZine produced by Longpela Expertise. It provides Mainframe articles for management and technical experts. It is published every November, February, May and August.

The opinions in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of any other person or organisation. All trademarks, trade names, service marks and logos referenced in these articles belong to their respective companies.

Although Longpela Expertise may be paid by organisations reprinting our articles, all articles are independent. Longpela Expertise has not been paid money by any vendor or company to write any articles appearing in our e-zine.

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