This chapter covers administration tasks that require the skill of a senior system administrator. These tasks (see Figure 16-1) are usually difficult to automate or cast into well-defined procedures that can be blindly followed by a less skilled colleague. Some tasks (for example, debugging and troubleshooting) defy automation because they deal with the unexpected. Others, such as system design, are performed too infrequently for an automated approach, or require the judgment of a human.
Figure 16-1. System administrator tasks
This is not to say that tools cannot be employed. We will give some attention to tools that can assist the system administrator in a Linux-on-the-mainframe environment.
The system administrator is instrumental for turning the potential of Linux on the mainframe into profitable operations.
With Linux on the mainframe being a new option, where do you obtain the required Linux and z/VM skill? Linux skill is abundant among young professionals, and Linux on the mainframe has the same feel as any Linux. Because Linux is UNIX-like, a good UNIX administrator will also feel reasonably at home with Linux.
An administrator with a UNIX or Linux background who works with Linux on the mainframe will face the challenges of handling the mainframe hardware, working with z/VM, the potentially large number of Linux images, and possibly, organizationally fitting into an existing mainframe shop with established structures and procedures.
A Linux system administrator needs skill for the hardware platform where the Linux instances are running. For Linux on the mainframe, the hardware is virtual, and the required hardware skill is z/VM skill. While the key z/VM concepts and the z/VM command language may be new for many administrators, they are by no means difficult to learn. In this chapter, we will point out sources of information on z/VM training.
Usually, an IT division that works with a zSeries machine is large. We are probably talking about a team responsible for the systems administration, not a single person. In 5.1, "Building a team," we discussed the mix of skills you require for Linux on the mainframe. When we talk about the system administrator, we mean the team leader or representative as a personification of the combined skill of the team.
In this chapter, we will explore questions such as: