I write this post watching the next chapter of mainframe computing emerging. With today’s announcements from the Open Mainframe Project, a new generation of mainframe-ers is emerging thanks to open source. But this chapter didn’t start being written today.
The year was 1999. I heard about my IBM Colleagues in Germany working on a skunkworks project to make Linux available on the IBM Mainframe. In 2000, IBM decided to officially market Linux across its entire server family including IBM z Systems. The elite IBM Linux Impact team was born in that year. Due to my affiliation with many clients on Wall Street, I was given the opportunity to join this team. Wall Street was already rampant with Linux x86 servers in clusters and racks. When I introduced them to Linux on z Systems and its consolidation virtualization capabilities, they were skeptical and resistant. Through perseverance and persistence of the IBM Linux Impact team, Wall Street began to see the value proposition of Linux on z Systems as did the rest of the industry. Much progress has been made with the growth of Linux on z Systems in the public and private sectors but there is definite room for improvement.
Now today, we as a mainframe community take a new step forward. Where in the past these communities of open source users on the mainframe were fragmented, the Open Mainframe Project brings this together. The formation of this vendor neutral project will take the groundwork laid by vendors and accelerate the adoption and enhancement of Open Source and Linux on the Mainframe by an order of magnitude across the entire marketplace. And with the unique angle of engaging academic institutions, the project looks to ensure that the mainframe will continue to be the platform of choice for the most demanding computational jobs for decades to come.
Whether you are new or experienced with Open Source and Linux on z Systems, you cannot help but feel the excitement all around you. Come with me and join the Open Mainframe Project.
To describe my enthusiasm of the Mainframe (also known as IBM z Systems) would take far too many words, but suffice to say I have been a massive fan ever since I left University (quite a while ago now) and had to quickly learn how to be a Mainframe Systems Programmer. Not an easy task when I’d never been taught anything about the system, and even more strange coming from a world where Windows hadn’t discovered virtualisation and even worse, there were no windows – just a green screen!
When I heard the news from LinuxCon in 2015 that the Linux Foundation was going to run and host the Open Mainframe Project, I truly felt that this was a turning point in the Mainframe’s fortunes. Linux has been running on the Mainframe for around 16 years, and yet has barely had the recognition or value it deserves. The Linux Foundation is the perfect agnostic organisation to promote the benefits of running Linux based applications on the Mainframe, and the Open Mainframe Project is a truly exciting prospect to get new people playing with the Linux environment and writing business relevant applications.
I was therefore really excited to attend the first ever EU meeting of the Open Mainframe Project, hosted at the University of Bedfordshire, one of the Project’s academic sponsors. The meeting was well attended by students, seasoned Mainframe professionals and members from the open source community, including Canonical – the organisation behind Ubuntu.
John Mertic, Senior Program Manager at the Linux Foundation led discussions on how the Open Mainframe Project was set up to bring together students, industry experts, developers and system administrators in a collaborative way to create open source based solutions on Linux on System z. As the Linux Foundation would be hosting the environment with support from their 100+ staff, it would be a truly vendor independent and neutral playing field for new and exciting applications. A board made up of a governing body, an IBM Fellow, lead developers and a committee will decide and manage the projects – which at present consist of focus areas on Docker, Blockchain, OpenJDK and monitoring tools. No IBM software here – this is all open source!
The aim of the Open Mainframe Project is simple –
- To promote the benefits of running Linux on the Mainframe (see this great video from MongoDB),
- To develop a broad ecosystem of software
- To engage and excite students and young people, bringing fresh ideas from academic institutions and
- To provide a neutral, collaborative approach to bringing together anyone wishing to learn and do more with one of the most impressive and longest living commercial Enterprise servers the world has known!
I am personally looking forward to working with the Open Mainframe Project and the Linux Foundation to make this a great success. I particularly want to see industry teaming up with academia to develop new and disruptive technologies – just imagine what a Bank could do with limited resource and budget, for example, when they can work with and leverage students through the Linux Foundation! Innovative business projects that may seem like an impossible pipe dream to deliver in a large organisation could be created through this initiative, leading to value for both the organisation and the open source community. All delivered on Linux on System z – an unbeatable combination!
Linux Foundation Brings Together Industry Heavyweights to Advance Linux on the Mainframe
Open collaboration among academia, government and corporate partners to advance an enterprise-grade platform for Linux
SEATTLE, LinuxCon/CloudOpen/ContainerCon, August 17, 2015 – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux and collaborative development, today announced the Open Mainframe Project. This initiative brings together industry experts to drive innovation and development of Linux on the mainframe.
Founding Platinum members of the Open Mainframe Project include ADP, CA Technologies, IBM and SUSE. Founding Silver members include BMC, Compuware, LC3, RSM Partners and Vicom Infinity. The first academic institutions participating in the effort include Marist College, University of Bedfordshire and The Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at University of Washington. The announcement comes as the industry marks 15 years of Linux on the mainframe.
In just the last few years, demand for mainframe capabilities have drastically increased due to Big Data, mobile processing, cloud computing and virtualization. Linux excels in all these areas, often being recognized as the operating system of the cloud and for advancing the most complex technologies across data, mobile and virtualized environments. Linux on the mainframe today has reached a critical mass such that vendors, users and academia need a neutral forum to work together to advance Linux tools and technologies and increase enterprise innovation.
“Linux today is the fastest growing operating system in the world. As mobile and cloud computing become globally pervasive, new levels of speed and efficiency are required in the enterprise and Linux on the mainframe is poised to deliver,” said Jim Zemlin executive director at The Linux Foundation. “The Open Mainframe Project will bring the best technology leaders together to work on Linux and advanced technologies from across the IT industry and academia to advance the most complex enterprise operations of our time.”
The Open Mainframe Project will focus on finding ways to leverage new software and tools in the Linux environment that are ideal for taking advantage of the mainframe’s speed, security, scalability and availability. The Project will seek to significantly broaden the set of tools and resources that are intended to drive development and collaboration of mainframe Linux. It will also aim to coordinate mainframe improvements to upstream projects to increase the quality of these code submissions and ease upstream collaboration.
The Open Mainframe Project will establish a neutral home for community meetings, events and collaborative discussions providing structure around the business and technical governance of the project. It will involve key academic institutions in order to increase the future talent pool of mainframe practitioners and technical experts. The Linux Jobs Report shows us that IT professionals who know Linux can look forward to a lucrative career, and success of Linux on the mainframe platform will benefit upon there being a rich talent pool of Linux professionals.
IBM today at LinuxCon is also making important announcements about Linux on the mainframe, including its new LinuxONE platform. For more information, please visit: ibm.biz/BdX938.
The Open Mainframe Project is a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. Collaborative Projects are independently supported software projects that harness the power of collaborative development to fuel innovation across industries and ecosystems. By spreading the collaborative DNA of the largest collaborative software development project in history, The Linux Foundation provides the essential collaborative and organizational framework so project hosts can focus on innovation and results. Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects span the enterprise, mobile, embedded and life sciences markets and are backed by many of the largest names in technology. For more information about Linux Foundation Collaborative Projects, please visit: http://collabprojects.linuxfoundation.org/
For more information about the Open Mainframe Project, please visit: https://www.openmainframeproject.org/
Comments from Members
“We’re looking forward to the results of this collaboration on the Open Mainframe Project, which we expect will dramatically advance the technologies we use to run our business,” said Steve Conger, VP Mainframe Systems Technology, ADP.
“The explosion of digital business and mobile apps that utilize mainframe cloud infrastructures running Linux continues to grow and fuels a need for new technologies. As a founding member of the Open Mainframe Project, we are excited to put our long history of mainframe innovation and commitment to work to advance and accelerate transformative technologies for Linux in the enterprise,” said Bill Miller, President, ZSolutions Optimization, BMC Software.
“CA Technologies is pleased to be a founding member, in partnership with key industry leaders, of the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project,“ said David Hodgson, General Manager, Mainframe, CA Technologies. “CA has long been a leader in management tools for existing Linux platforms both on and off the mainframe. We continue to invest in innovation and technology that enables customers to utilize the mainframe as their open platform of choice for a more secure, robust, scalable and cost effective environment. As a mobile-to-mainframe solution provider we are eager to partner with the Linux Foundation to foster leadership and incubate innovation to propel the mainframe into the future and help customers win in the application economy.”
“Over the last 50 years, IBM mainframes have evolved to hold the position as the world’s most advanced business compute platform. Nothing comes close in performance, reliability, security and resource efficiency. In a world where big no longer beats small, rather fast beats slow, Linux on the mainframe combines big and fast on a single platform to create opportunities for innovation and new mainframe workloads. Compuware is a proud and committed founding member of this Linux Foundation project and looks forward to collaborating on this worthy mission of mainframe innovation,” said Chris O’Malley, CEO, Compuware.
“Demand has grown among academic, corporate and government partners for furthering the mainframe’s expansion into the open ecosystem,” said Ross Mauri, general manager, IBM z Systems. “IBM looks forward to contributing our expertise to the community and learning from others to find innovative ways to combine the flexibility of open source software with the world-class speed, security and scalability of the mainframe.”
“As an early adopter of Linux, open source, and mainframe technology, Marist has wholeheartedly embraced the use of these technologies within our business and curriculum,” said Bill Thirsk, Vice President of Information Technology / CIO at Marist College. “We are excited for the opportunity to participate in a community such as the Open Mainframe Project that will benefit the Linux environment and open source software on the mainframe.”
“RSM Partners is very pleased to participate in this initiative, complementing our leadership of the UK Guide SHARE (GSE) z/Linux stream,” said Mark Wilson- Founder & Technical Director of RSM Partner. “With our sole focus on mainframe infrastructure consulting, our technical consultants have been involved with Linux on the mainframe since its beginnings. We’re currently building a Linux showcase environment on one of our in-house mainframes, helping both new and existing clients better understand the full potential of Linux on z.”
“SUSE is eager to advance the mainframe ecosystem by joining the Open Mainframe Project as a founding member,” said Michael Miller, SUSE vice president of global alliances and marketing. “SUSE has been the No. 1 Linux on the mainframe for 15 years by working together with this ecosystem. The Open Mainframe Project provides an ideal environment to expand that collaboration in a way that increases choice and brings benefits to customers and developers alike.”
University of Bedfordshire
“This is an exciting time to be involved in enterprise technologies. The potential benefits of open source systems optimized to run on the mainframe’s highly scalable and reliable architecture are very significant,” said Herbert Daly, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Technology. “The Open Mainframe Project offers our staff and students a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with an outstanding field of talent, dedicated to shaping the future of business critical enterprise computing”
“Since its inception, Vicom Infinity has been deeply involved from a business, technical, and financial perspective with Linux and Open Source on the IBM z Systems Mainframe,” said Len Santalucia, CTO and Business Development Manager at Vicom Infinity. “We sponsor Linux on z Systems customer councils and user groups across the USA, assist colleges and universities with integrating Linux and Open Source into their z Systems curriculum, and have helped hundreds of clients worldwide implement Linux and Open Source on their IBM z Systems Mainframes. With the advent of the Open Mainframe Project, Vicom Infinity believes Linux and Open Source on the IBM z Systems Mainframe will be taken to a new level and significantly increase the utilization of Linux and Open Source in Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social Media, and Security in IBM z Systems Mainframe environments”.
About The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux and collaborative software development. Founded in 2000, the organization sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and promotes, protects and advances the Linux operating system and collaborative software development by marshaling the resources of its members and the open source community. The Linux Foundation provides a neutral forum for collaboration and education by hosting Collaborative Projects, Linux conferences including LinuxCon, and generating original research and content that advances the understanding of Linux and collaborative software development. More information can be found at www.linuxfoundation.org.
The Linux Foundation and Linux Standard Base are trademarks of The Linux Foundation. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds.
The Linux Foundation