My HackDay 6 Project – Mashing Up RMF

(Originally posted 2008-11-03.)

Another 6 months on and another HackDay…

Hackday6 was on 24 October – and being distracted by little things such as GSE Conference and an important customer situation I haven’t blogged about it yet. So, a little late, here goes…

Many of you will know that RMF has a WebPortal for monitoring performance and capacity usage. And you’ll know that the z10 processor’s HMC is web-based (though I don’t think z10 was the first System z processor to have one). Let’s park the HMC thing for a moment…

Before I go any further I should acknowledge my team mate in this: Stepane Rodet from the Boeblingen Lab (where, most relevantly to me, RMF, WLM and Capacity Provisioning Manager come from). He did a lot of the programming work and put together the foils we’re waving around (the latter, thankfully, using OpenOffice).

Here’s the idea…

Any web interface, just about, can be “mashed up”, hacked about or (as I prefer to call it) defaced. So we thought we’d demonstrate this using RMF. Choosing RMF was not exactly gratuitous – just to get “z” in the hack. 🙂 The point is we think that the RMF WebPortal has information in it that would be good to mash up. We don’t really know how people would choose to mash up the data but we think there’s a lot of potential there. Such vague notions are what get me into trouble. 🙂

So, we devised a shopping list of web technologies to use against this web data source, including

  • GreaseMonkey (a most excellent scripter for Firefox).
  • PHP (which would run in a web server that acted as a front end).
  • cURL (a command line HTTP client).
  • Adobe AIR (which uses HTML and javascript to build desktop applications).
  • Java applets.

In the end we concentrated on a very small number of these and went against a small number of RMF-served web pages.

And our hacks were rather modest – just showing we could extract names and numbers (of LPARs) and do some arithmetic and redisplay with them (building a simple table with scaled bars in it).

We had a lot of fun doing it and, though the hack was rather small, we count it a success because…

  • We demonstrated RMF WebPortal could be mashed up.
  • We learnt some lessons on behalf of Development… such as the need to be able to navigate direct to pages that are in frames and the need for “id” attributes on some of the key HTML tags.

So, as I mentioned before, Stephane has written some foils (and I’ve contributed a little to them) that he is taking to RMF and WLM development groups – to get their interest. (Stephane works on Capacity Provisioning Manager and is in the same group as WLM and RMF.)

There are no promises here but we’ve started the conversation with RMF about how to make its information more consumable by web clients. (You have to be careful in this because there’s no guarantee of “HTML stability” as, in principle, RMF could change the HTML with a single PTF – to meet some other need.) And, no, I don’t think HTML hacking is the best way to do this… I’d like to see some robust web services (probably JSON or maybe XML).

Now, why the HMC?

Because I think that this is equally mashable and combining its data with RMF might be an interesting thing to do. But we didn’t get there this time. We wanted to actually get something working… to demonstrate the possibilities.

Maybe next time…

Unless you (dear customer) have something in the z/OS space that’s relatively small you’d like us to try and do (or mock up or experiment with). Ideas?

Oh, and by the way, maybe Twitter is a good place to bounce around ideas like that. Lots of mainframers and DB2 folks are there now. DB2 is doing especially well with household names right now. You can fine Stephane as “rodet” and me as “martinpacker” on Twitter.

Published by Martin Packer

I'm a mainframe performance guy and have been for the past 35 years. But I play with lots of other technologies as well.

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