Alexa, how can you improve my workflow efficiency with z/OS?

Smart speakers like Alexa (70% market share) are nosing their way into a myriad of workspaces, raising a lot of curious eyebrows and generating a lot of excitement about the possibilities for increases in team productivity and cost-savings.

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Those Alexa-enabled features concepts for interfacing with z/OS mainframes included how Alexa can help increase productivity with easy-to-use voice enabling automation for alerting (such as job failures, resource shortages, etc.) to being able to obtain simple information like disk space requirements, message definitions, and more for z/OS.

“Lots of opportunities exist for Alexa and z/OS to work well together, and the applications are now ready,” says Williamson. “We listened to the mainframe community and discovered the instances where the financial return makes improving communications across teams for IBM Z environments a ‘no-brainer’ with Alexa.”

In terms of security, you still need RACF authorization to access the Alexa/mainframe interface. Additionally, Amazon has a good deal of TLS encryption for data transmitted from Alexa to the web interface and enterprise firewall. Once inside your firewall, your normal encryption/authentication protocols would be in place.

From there, one area that keeps emerging involves using this voice-recognition technology to reference REXX codes in real time while making the next steps clear and actionable.

This Alexa application (or “skill”) is downloadable and will allow you to voice activate a variety of functions after setup. “We’ve made it easy to log-in on to our portal on Heroku and do a sign-in which of course utilizes OAUTH2 security,” says Pryor. “Sample LPARs are the DTS test to the z/OS system and from there you’re good to utilize many of the features we have put together.”

Some of those features include:

  • Using different types of Alexa intents include: status, list, stop, start (submit), message, alerts, graph.
  • Identifying various volumes and storgrps.
  • Utilizing REXX codes to perform z/OS functions and confirm REXX exec.
  • Using Alexa to receive alerts from z/OS in its DTS SCC Rails App configuration and accessed easily through a voice command such as “Alexa, what did I miss?”
  • Generating a list of items or even a graph that can show on your screen, through commands such as “Alexa, graph the pool free space.”
  • Ease of customization so users can issue commands like “list systems,” “what is the status” of a job, or “what is the system status,” delivering up-to-the-second information .

Pryor also adds that he has heard of using Alexa to keep teams on the same page when it comes to getting app development updates in the DevOps chain and sharing other relevant updates with virtual teams globally. “There are a lot of different directions where we can take this technology,” he says. “We’re excited to keep hearing insights and opportunities. For now, we know we’re on the right track and the feedback we’ve been hearing from our customers and the market is very positive.”

Click here for more information on Alexa and your mainframe.