IBM System Z9 - Notable Differences - Support Element & HMC

Support Element & HMC

The Support Element is the most direct and lowest level way to access a mainframe. It circumvents even the Hardware Management Console and the operating system running on the mainframe. The HMC is a PC connected to the mainframe and emulates the Support Element. All preceding zSeries mainframes used a modified version of OS/2 with custom software to provide the interface. System z9's HMC no longer uses OS/2, but instead uses a modified version of Linux with an OS/2 lookalike interface to ease transition as well as a new interface. Unlike the previous HMC application on OS/2, the new HMC is web-based which means that even local access is done via a web browser. Remote HMC access is available, although only over an SSL encrypted HTTP connection. The web-based nature means that there is no longer a difference between local console access and remote access, which means a remote user potentially has full control if authorized, allowing more flexibility for locating systems within data centers. IBM refers to the new HMC as a "closed platform" which does not allow the user to install software or access the command line interface to increase security and stability. The HMC is also firewalled by default with a minimal number of open ports for remote access.

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