All Posts By


I Am A Mainframer – Alex Kim

By | Blog, I Am A Mainframer

In the latest episode of the “I Am A Mainframer” podcast, Steven chats with Alex Kim from Vicom. Alex tells Steven about his journey to the mainframe, how The Open Mainframe Project’s Zowe framework is contributing to Vicom’s innovative VIVA project, and where he thinks the mainframe is heading in the next few years.


Steven Dickens: Hello, my name is Steven Dickens and you’re here for the I Am A Mainframer podcast, brought to you by the Linux Foundation’s collaborative project The Open Mainframe Project. I’m really glad today to have one of my good friends out there in the community. Joining us is Alex Kim who’s really a rock star out there in the community really on the cutting edge doing some cool things. So Alex, welcome to the podcast.

Alex Kim: Thank you Steve, for the introduction. I’m honored

Steven: The honor’s all mine. It’s really good that we finally get you on to the podcast. It’s been too long. So Alex, just get us orientated. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Give us an introduction. Let the listeners connect to who you are and really give us a perspective and get us started here, if you don’t mind.

Alex: Hello everybody, my name is Alex Kim. I am a mainframe engineer and an architect. I started working as a chip designer in mainframe in IBM Poughkeepsie in 2001. I was in a team where we developed crypto express cards and I was a designer for the AES at the time. It was a new encryption algorithm standard. I moved to different development projects and then also moved to a sales organization as a pre-sale technical specialist covering the financial sector in Wall Street.

I’ve been with IBM premier vision partner Viacom Infinity for about five years now working with various clients. There are nice teams in here and we’re still at IBM and working with IBM teams like Steve and working on a lot of fun projects.

Steven: You’ve been too humble there my friend. There’s some really good stuff that I know you’re doing and we’ll come back to that later on in the podcast. But that’s a very humble overview of your skills. I see you as one of the guys on the cutting edge there in the community, working on some interesting stuff. So, I think it’s gonna be good. If I can get you to be a little bit less humble and tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing out there and some of the cool projects.

One for me would be the crypto stuff. That’s the cutting edge and are typically the best and the brightest.  So, maybe just give us a little bit about how you got started. Where you were working first on that some of that crypto technology. I know that’s getting a lot of press right now. And depending some of the cool stuff like Blockchain on the platform. So really keen to if I can get you to give a little bit of your perspective and how you got started on the platform.

Alex: Sure. So I was a graduate student at Polytech University in Brooklyn, which is now part of NYU.  My advisor and professor in my research plan, I was part of the chip design lab. It was around 1999 and 2000. I think at the time the encryption standard was Triple DES, which is known as the Data Encryption Standard was fading out because computing power was at  a point where you can break the code or in a day or so. So, there was a proposal out there from many different countries and candidates submitted. At the end, there was an aggregation selected called AES. That was the product that I worked on.  One day I was walking by the library and there was IBM recruitment on campus, and they are giving a pizza away. So, I went there for pizza and I started talking to our recruiting manager. She was very interested in my research and asked me to bring the regimen the next day. So, I did and after like five months after I started working for IBM. So, I got really, really lucky.

Steven: So we have a free pizza to thank for us starting your career on the platform. It’s amazing what you can get with free pizza.

Alex: Oh, yeah, yeah. College kids and pizza. You can never separate them.

Steven: That’s one for me to remember. Next time I’m doing a hackathon with The Open Mainframe Project. So starting off in the crypto space on a really cool project got you into the platform. Then you no longer work for IBM, you work for Vicom. Tell me a little bit about that transition and how you made the move from IBM to one of our great community members who work on the platform and really support your fun side.

Alex: So, when I moved to the Wall Street clients set to support my sales team for IBM, one of my clients I was working with was supported by an IBM partner. I learned about the company, and how they assist on top of IBM Support and collaborate with it. I think IBM wanted to encourage a lot of partners to take more ownership.  I saw the opportunity that I can contribute in that effort, and support my clients with some other skills that I had from the development experience. I was doing other things that maybe help customers to use mainframe more. So, I wanted to join the team and thankfully I was able to join. I still work with the same team from IBM, but I think I’m proud of extended team.

Steven: Fantastic. The podcast is called I Am A Mainframer. You know, I think a lot of our listeners are either established on the platform or a new and trying to understand it. I’ve been really keen to get your perspective about why you see yourself as a mainframer. What got you interested? So if you could maybe give us a perspective there that would be really interesting for the listeners, I think.

Alex: When I started working for IBM in 2001, the first year I learned a lot about things. The acronym was “RAS”, reliability, availability and serviceability. It’s almost engraved in my brain that anything I do, I always think about that. So, when I think about the mainframe it’s those three letters: reliability and availability and so serviceability.  I was working with at the time a distinguished engineer on a RAS feature. So he’s basically with other team members the RAS theory and developed a lot of chips and mainframe architecture with that. So going to his office, looking at all this research documents that he created from the basic components into certain level to the architecture level was amazing. I think mainframe today still stands for those three letters and then it became an enterprise system or enterprise computing when I came to the field. Customers actually rely on those three things. Critical business should have those three things all the time.

Steven: I agree when you speak to clients and when we speak to people on this podcast those really sort of come through. As key foundations for how they use the workloads on top of the platform, and really some of the architectural choices, the development teams, making the hardware engineering teams and ultimate those clients are when they’re architected for these workloads. I think it’d be really good to maybe share that with some of the listeners. One of the coolest things I’ve seen over the last sort of 12 months is somebody developing a voice assistant for the mainframe. I know that’s your pet project. It literally blows me away every time you demo this. So, can you just share with the listeners what you’ve developed what Viva as a project is and really what we can expect from that technology coming out over the next few months.

Alex: Sure. VIVA stands for Vicom Infinity Voice Assistant. A lot of people, including myself, has a voice assistants at home. I have like six or seven Alexa ECHOs at my place. A lot of people might have Google Home and I use it daily. And I think it will be another major human interface to the computers.


The beginning of this fever project for the mainframe was starting with thinking “how cool it would be to ask a question to a device how the mainframe is doing?” Every morning I have two kids going to school, and I to clothe them properly I ask, “Alexa, how’s the weather?” Then she answers me, then I can get the information right away so I don’t have to look at my smartphone for the temperature for the weather. So, I thought it’d be cool to do that with the mainframe. I started with our summer intern in 2017. This was second year he’s come for a summer internship at Vicom Infinity. His first year, he got a project for Hyperledger which is very high level and very conceptual. So the second year he wanted to do something fun and realistic and I picked three things together. Raspberry Pi, voice recognition and RESTful API for the mainframe. So, we meshed that together and came out with something that you can ask questions about the mainframe systems. So we showed our demo to our president at the time at the end of the internship testimonial. Our president really liked it and I think he saw the potential that it could be helpful to our clients at some point. So we started investing more time and effort and came up with a more secure and more reliable usable technology so that you know we can introduce it to our clients.

Steven: Fantastic. Anybody should look out for the demo of this. I think it’s a really good user interface. Not only a fun project, but I can see the business applications. And the way you demo it getting those executives to query about the mainframe performance, peak usage, your month end process in or after a busy day being able to just query the mainframe and check performance. I think it’s a really cool project. One of the other things that I know you’re heavily involved in is Zowe. I see your name more frequently than I see anybody else is probably in the Zowe slack channels.  Can you just give me your perspective of Zowe and maybe if there are any connections to VIVA, of how you see that?

Alex: I’m more of a user of Zowe the open source project. We really think it was a perfect moment for Viva because we ere using API connected to time to integrate many other system API’s the mainframe, but we wanted to use something free so that you don’t have to pay to start the project. When we were introduced to Zowe, I was like, “Wow, this is it. We should definitely dive in and use it”. We got it working after two months. We got a lot of help from local development teams and from overseas in the U.S. and Canada. It was great working together and they still are working together. It was a perfect match.


Steven: So where do you see Zowe going? Have you see its impact on the rest of the open source community and on the mainframe community?

Alex: I think its more of a testing the water period, that a lot of people want to get some awareness, and how it’s being used with the initial packages. For example, our use cases demonstrate how you can create an API and then integrate it with some other application in your enterprise. I think as for Zowe, if people continued to demonstrate their use cases, a lot of people will have their own ideas and their own way to contribute back to the community.

Steven: So it’s interesting to talk about community. We’re on the Open Mainframe Project podcast. What role do you see the OMP and the Linux Foundation playing in that mainframe community? How do you see that coming together?

Alex: I think the OMP has done a great job for the past three years. It’s been great, especially for Zowe’s side was the US Open Source projects. I think there are some mainstream audiences that may want to know about this. Also, working together in the open source community will have great potential to expand mainframe users and developers. For example, having some other Linux Foundation project like Hyperledger or Let’s Encrypt, and have them integrate something with Zowe across platform development might be something good. I would love to see that happen as a personal user. And I think there will be a lot of development and collaboration on the non-mainframe side.

Steven: Where do you see the mainframe platform going over the next 12 to 36 months? Where do you see for the short term and maybe medium term future? What do you see ahead for the platform?

Alex: I think that the pervasive encryption topic that IBM is easy to broaden to the market really hit the hat. It couldn’t be better timing or, I shouldn’t say better because we see a lot of security breaches and I think he should, we talk about the encryption and security vulnerability, and how to how to exploit the features and how to prevent data breaches. Open Source traditionally address those areas very well. I think having OMP with the Linux Foundation focusing on the security topic over the next 36 months might be very good. I think has potential as that people will try to drive it that way.

Steven: Yeah, I think it’s going to be an exciting time. I mean with what’s coming down the pipeline from some of the security guys here. You know, it’s the communities definitely digging in on this requirement. Every day you hear about a hack at there and some other companies being hacked. So, I think as we all look to engage with clients around the mainframe platform and security, that message just seems to resonate.

Alex: I see a lot of our customers finally getting to the ideas and started to implement those pervasive encryption features. There’s a lot of open source out there and you can run it on any platform. So we just need to let people know that they can choose to run open source on the mainframe and then make it stronger and protect it.

Steven: Yeah. That’s a foundation for me, the ability to protect that data and be able to provide a platform where you know you’ve got encrypted data. You’ve got that strong robust security at every level through the stack. That’s just foundational for me whenever we talk to clients so I’m not surprised. You say that but it but it’s reassuring to hear that. That’s coming through in your conversations out there in the community.  Alex, This has been absolutely fantastic. Always a pleasure to talk to you. You’re such an innovator in the space. We talked about Viva and I recommend everybody check that out. Is there anything else you want to share with the group as we would look to wrap up? Are there any other sort of parting final comments?

Alex: I really wanted to thank you, the Linux Foundation, The Open Mainframe, and the other developers of Zowe and development community for their endless time and effort putting this together.

Steven: Oh it’s always a pleasure  Alex. Always great to talk. So you’ve been listening to the open mainframe project. I’ve been talking to Alex Kim from Vicom about some of the great work he’s doing and how he’s innovating on the bleeding edge of voice recognition and the mainframe. Please look to subscribe and join us again for future episodes. My name is Steven Dickens. It’s been a pleasure talking to you today on The Open Mainframe Project, I Am A Mainframer podcast. Thanks for much for your time.

Encouraging Women in Technology

By | Blog

By Martha McConaghy, SHARE Vice President and active member of the Open Mainframe Project

For as long as I can remember, there has been a lack of representation for women in technology, especially in mainframes. Despite having a history that includes leaders such as Grace Hopper, women have typically been scarce. This is not an issue unique to mainframes or SHARE. When the Open Mainframe Project first mentioned the idea of collaborating on an initiative to support Women, SHARE quickly jumped onboard and decided that it’s time we, as an association, help change the conversation.

With the inspiration from the Open Mainframe Project, we are excited to introduce a new track at our upcoming conference, SHARE Phoenix, titled “Women in Technology.”

We hope the sessions offered at SHARE Phoenix will be the start of a longer-term initiative to develop a community that encourages women in the field, and becomes a place to find support, share best practices, and network with like-minded individuals.

Through networking opportunities, panel discussions, and sessions presented by women in the field, we hope to create an environment of mutual support among existing members, and create opportunities that will ultimately welcome more women into SHARE.

Below are a few activities you can expect to see at SHARE Phoenix, which includes kicking-off the “Women in Technology” initiative with a networking lunch sponsored by the Open Mainframe Project.

For more information on SHARE Phoenix (March 10-15) and Women in IT sessions, visit the SHARE Phoenix website.


Open Mainframe Project Advances Modern Mainframe with Production Ready Zowe 1.0

By | News, Press

Less than 6 months after launch, this new Zowe release provides mainframes with new, intuitive, cloud-like interfaces

SAN FRANCISCO, February 11, 2019 – The Open Mainframe Project (OMP) announced today that Zowe, an open source software framework for the mainframe that strengthens integration with modern enterprise applications, is now production ready less than six months after launching. Any enterprise or solution developer can access the Zowe 1.0 source code or convenience build and incorporate it into their products or services with the agility and scalability of a cloud platform.

Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the Open Mainframe Project is comprised of business and academic leaders within the mainframe community that collaborate to develop shared tool sets and resources. OMP launched Zowe, the first-ever open source project based on z/OS, last August to serve as an integration platform for the next generation of tools for administration, management and development on z/OS mainframes.

Zowe 1.0 consists of core technologies enabling modern interfaces for web applications on z/OS, a new command line interface and expansion of platform REST API capabilities. This makes the z/OS environment more “cloud-like” and aims to improve integration in hybrid cloud environments.

The Zowe framework provides interoperability and using the latest web technologies among products and solutions from multiple vendors. It helps enable developers to use the familiar, industry-standard, open source tools to access mainframe resources and services. Since launch, there has been a huge community response with more than 1,700 beta downloads, 700 +members of the project’s communication tool (220+ daily active users) and more than 50 committers.

“Mainframes are the foundation of businesses in every industry,” said John Mertic, Director of Program Management for the Linux Foundation and Open Mainframe Project. “Zowe breathes new life into mainframes and offers innovative possibilities for next generation applications. With Zowe 1.0, we’re developing secure, reliable and scalable computing that will ensure sustainability of mainframes for many years to come.”

With the ever-increasing deployment of hybrid architectures, mainframes need to manage a bigger volume, variety and velocity of data and transactions. OMP is dedicated to modernizing the platform for mission critical apps and blockchain – where fast data access, transactional scale, and the highest level of trust are required. The Zowe framework is part of this mission as it will enable an ecosystem of software solutions intended to provide a simple, intuitive environment for a variety of IT professionals performing administrative, development, test and operation tasks on z/OS, and help onboard the next generation of mainframe users.

Zowe 1.0 represents a major milestone on the project’s technical roadmap. Key features for this release include:

– Functional extensions, integration between different 3rd party products and applications
– Updated docs that define extension points and provide sample applications and tutorials on how to integrate with or extend the Zowe framework
– New pre-install scripts that can help identify and verify the appropriate pre-reqs prior to beginning the Zowe installation process
– A Zowe API Mediation Layer that provides the foundation for a single point of access for mainframe service REST APIs and an optional single sign-on experience that leverages an organization’s existing System Authorization Facility, or SAF protocols, enabling programs and applications to use system authorization services to control access to different resources

Additionally, Zowe earned the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) Best Practice Badge, which means it is following best practices and conformance in driving secure software development and governance in open source. The Core Infrastructure Initiative is a collaborative, pre-emptive program and approach for strengthening cyber security that is widely supported by industry leaders like IBM, AWS, Google, VMWare and Cisco. The CII Best Practices Badge is a rigorous assessment of an open source project’s processes and infrastructure; other open source projects that has achieved the badge include Linux, Kubernetes and Node to name a few.

The Open Mainframe Project will be on-site next week at THINK 2019 with several speaking sessions about Zowe and a happy hour. Visit the OMP website to learn more.

Additional Resources:
Zowe GitHub Repository
Zowe Convenience Build Download
Getting Started documentation site
OMP’s I am a Mainframer Podcast
OMP’s Internship Program

About the Open Mainframe Project
The Open Mainframe Project is intended to serve as a focal point for deployment and use of Linux and Open Source in a mainframe computing environment. With a vision of Open Source on the Mainframe as the standard for enterprise class systems and applications, the project’s mission is to Build community and adoption of Open Source on the mainframe by eliminating barriers to Open Source adoption on the mainframe, demonstrating value of the mainframe on technical and business levels, and strengthening collaboration points and resources for the community to thrive. Learn more about the project at

About The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at

The Linux Foundation has registered trademarks and uses trademarks. For a list of trademarks of The Linux Foundation, please see its trademark usage page: Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds.


Keeping up With the Zowians – Best ways to follow Zowe community developments

By | Blog

Tim Brooks from  IBM keeps us up to date on all things Zowe and offers pointers to anyone using the platform. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Zowe is an open source project on z/OS and has been developing very quickly over the past ~6 months. With two week sprints and a monthly release cadence, most people don’t have the time to keep up with all the community developments and still do their day jobs. Time is always the most valuable and finite asset, so the following resource recommendations have been categorized based on the amount time and commitment you have to devote to keeping up with the Zowians.

Just Checking In (~30 min/week): The following resources are available to anyone interested in the project, but for those who only have time to follow the major announcements and are interested in learning more about high-level value propositions. The following social media resources are a must for you:

  • LinkedIn: Search and follow #Zowe to make sure Zowe announcements appear on your news feed. Also, feel free to connect with me – I try to post the 1-2 most important developments each week.
  • Twitter: Search and follow #Zowe to see the most recent conversations. Also be sure to follow @OpenMFProject, the community that hosts the Zowe project.

Curious and Wanting to Learn More (~60 min/week): So you are interested. Zowe might be a project whose vision and professional goal’s to modernize the mainframe user experience peak your interest. But you aren’t quite ready to jump in. You want to learn more about the project before investing the time required to get familiar with the code and exploit the Zowe technology. If this is you, here are some links you’ll want to save in your bookmarks:

  • This is the developer community site and there’s a lot to explore.
    • A great place to start is the project documentation and visit the “Getting Started” section to learn about the architecture and components. If you keep reading you’ll find the archive of the release notes which describes what’s new or changed in each release.  
  • Ask for an Overview Presentation: Work with your software vendor, or reach out directly to the Zowe User email distribution list and connect with a Zowian to schedule a 1-on-1 project overview presentation.

Ready to get Involved – Perhaps you expect to work with Zowe related products and services. Maybe you have talked with your manager and you are planning to invest your time in learning about and contributing to the Zowe community. No matter your situation, you are looking to get connected directly with the development community and begin participating in open source development. If this is you, here are the resources to get you looped in to all the day to day developments (there are over 50 committers whose full-time job it is to work on this project):

  • Get connected with the developers: We use a variety of tools in the open source community.
    • The most direct and quickest way to connect is through Slack.   
    • You can’t use slack, or don’t have access? No problem reach out to the Dev User email distribution. Even if you have access to Slack, you should subscribe to this Dev User email distribution because it’s the same tool we use to schedule our meetings/scrums.
    • Join one of our open zoom meetings by viewing our developer calendar. We use Zoom for all our meetings, and minutes are posted here.
  • Check out what we are working on: We use Waffle, a Kanban tool that aggregates all our Git Issues. You can use Waffle filters and tags to see who is working on certain issues, when they are expected to be done and which Git repo the issue belongs to.
  • Get your hands on the source: Visit our Github page to view the source files and please  submit issues, make pull requests and ask for help.


Fig 1: Zowe Community Waffle (Kanban) Board: Used to manage all Git Issues open across all Zowe Git Repos. Use the filter in the top right to filter for what you are looking for.


Fig 2: Zowe Community Developer Calendar: Used to bring Zowe community members together for scrums/standups as well as cross squad playbacks. Each squad manages its own set of repos and calendar events.

So there you have it. Keeping up with the Zowians is as easy as determining how involved you want to be in the project and community. If you have any problems accessing any of these resources you can always reach out to the Open Mainframe Project who manages our open source tools and services by sending them an email at .

Ludmila Salimena: I am a Mainframer

By | Blog, I Am A Mainframer


In our latest episode of the “I am a Mainframer” podcast, Steven Dickens chats with Ludmila Salimena from IBM. Ludmila has been in the Mainframe industry since 2009 after entering the Master the Mainframe Competition. Ludmilla describes how she began her career in working with the mainframe, and gives advice for those looking to work with the platform. She also describes how she’s planning on helping the next generation of mainframers through internship programs and networking.  

Steven: Hello and welcome. My name is Steven Dickens. I’m here today on the Open Mainframe Project, I’m A Mainframer podcast. The Open Mainframe Project is a Linux Foundation collaborative project that it promotes Linux and Open-Source on the Mainframe. I’m joined today by my guest Ludmila Salmena. Hi, Ludmila.

Ludmila: Hi, Steven. Thank you.

Steven: Yeah. Thank you for joining us. Always good to talk to people from around the world, so maybe if you could just give us a little background on yourself, and give us a little view on your career and how you’ve been working in the mainframe ecosystem? Always good to start there and get your perspective.

Ludmila: Sure. My first job position was not in the mainframe world. One day, I entered the Master the Mainframe Competition, and that was my door to the mainframe world. It was not the first time I heard about mainframes because my dad is also mainframing, so it was pretty easy. So because of him, I already knew about mainframing. I knew how powerful and important mainframes are to many companies.

After I completed the Master the Mainframe Competition, I got an internship opportunity at IBM. That was back in 2009. I started as an upper salesperson but in a few months, I started to work with the compass in Brazil. Since I was hired, I was in the academic initiative program for IBMZ, but year after year, I was incorporating other activities related to the ecosystem such as working with clients and their strategies for IBMZ, developing community outreach such as the fair, hackathons, events, meetups. It’s a very broad bunch of activities.

Steven: Okay. Something interesting there that you mentioned, you mentioned your father was on the mainframe. Can you maybe just give us a little view of what he used to do on the platform?

Ludmila: He is still a mainframer.

Steven: Oh, okay. Fantastic.

Ludmila: Yes. He’s DBA DB2, and worked with ZBM since the beginning.

Steven: Oh, excellent.

Ludmila: As you can imagine, after many years hearing him talk on the phone and seeing him working from home with green letters, mainframe was not a mysterious thing to me. I used to go with him to the office and play with terminals. It would be great to have some cameras at that time, so that I could share some interesting memories right now.

Steven: Oh, fantastic. You’ve been a mainframer since the age of six by the sound of it?

Ludmila: Yeah. We can say that.

Steven: Excellent. One of the other things you mentioned was your first encounter with the mainframe. Well, probably in your professional career at least was in the Master the Mainframe Contest. That’s a really interesting program and I know a lot of our listeners will maybe have heard about it, but it will be good to get your perspective of that contest and how that provided a portal into both the mainframe world and IBM.

Ludmila: Yeah. The essence of the contest is showing different terms and information you needed in your mainframe job position. The focus of the contest is exactly to achieve all kinds of participants. If you have no knowledge on mainframes or any kind of enterprise level IT, this is the correct place to start. If you tell me, “Hey, I already know a little bit on mainframes.” Master the Mainframe is also a good place to keep learning. Every year, we launch a bunch of new activities. Each challenge is different, is unique. You can have experience from JCL, COBOL. There are also many coding challenges that you can learn about it.

Steven: Okay. It sounds like a broad range of activities. From your experience, what have you liked most as you’ve gone onto the mainframe platform? Either in the Master the Mainframe contest or since you’ve joined IBM, what’s been your passion?

Ludmila: I think there are many strengths related to mainframe that I like. I think the one that I like most is the compatibility because it’s very interesting that you’d be able to upgrade your hardware and know that all programs will continue working without code changing is amazing. I am a little bit far from the technical side now for a few years, but those kind of strengths are very interesting on the platform.

Steven: Okay. Now, you’re working within IBM, and with schools and universities. You’re working in an academic program to try and pull those institutions through onto the platform. What’s the feedback you’re getting from those academic institutions as you try and position the mainframe technology?

Ludmila: In Brazil, there are many rules guiding the university’s curriculum. When I speak with these schools and universities, usually I tell them to incorporate the mainframe content in their curriculums, but they complain that they are not seeing job opportunities for their students. Therefore, I have been working with the IBMZ community to pair them closely with those universities. So faculty can see there is opportunity in this place and the companies can share appropriately this information with the academia in general.

Steven: Okay. You see the biggest challenge moving forward is that joining of the academic institutions with the people who would actually have those job roles, i.e. the end clients. Is that where you see the biggest challenge moving forward?

Ludmila: Yes. The communication between mainframe employers and academia must exist and needed to be proven. Unfortunately, this is not happening as much as I’d like to. The academia is preparing the professionals of the future and today, you can work with high school students coming into colleges, universities, etc. The students today don’t know of the kind of job possibilities they can look for. The companies today, they are (the ones) who are implementing and being a part of the technology transformation and they needed to visit schools and show to faculty and students the possibilities of technology because it’s huge. I am here happy to work with employers to introduce them to academia community to make this happen.

Steven: So I think if I was to give you a title, it would be a mainframe matchmaker. You’re making that match between the academic institutions and the students and the employers, the end users of the mainframe, and really trying to join those two communities together and get them to work with each other. Would that be a fair summary?

Ludmila: Yes. Perfect.

Steven: That’s your new title, Ludmilla, mainframe matchmaker.

Ludmila: Yes. I’m going to add this.

Steven: Fantastic. As we talk a little bit about the Open Mainframe Project, we’ve got a number of academic members, and they help us advance a key part of the mission which is to recruit, teach and educate the next generation. One of the ways we do this, is through our internship program. The Open Mainframe Projects got an internship program now that’s been running for the last three years. We’ve taken almost 30 students through that program. What advice would you give to students looking to get into the mainframe space? What would sort of be your path that you would suggest to a student who’s looking at the mainframe and saying, “How do I get into this technology?”

Ludmila: There are many possibilities. As a student, you can get involved with Master the Mainframe, you can explore and use the Linux cloud as you already mentioned, you can go to internship programs on Open Mainframe Project and also explore some identical patterns related to mainframe. All of them give you the experience in all levels to get into the mainframe industry.

Steven: Okay. That’s obviously people looking to get into the mainframe space, students. Obviously, a lot of our listenership here is already in the mainframe space. What would be those best practices or tips for those people already in the mainframe industry maybe looking to our different skills, maybe looking to move jobs? What type of advice, hints and tips would you give to people already in the mainframe space?

Ludmila: The same channels that the students can use of course, and each one is going to take advantage in his or her way. But I think staying up to date in all modern capabilities and tools on mainframe can provide you a long future, a brighter future. We have to update ourselves.

Steven: Okay, excellent. Speaking from the Open Mainframe community side, what would you like to see from us? How would you like to see the community evolve over time specifically in the skill space?

Ludmila: The Open Mainframe Project has a unique ability to access a broader open-source community. I’d say I would love to see them share the value of this platform with the community that can help get the word out there.

Steven: So it’s getting the word out and try and use the community that we’re building within the Open Mainframe Project to amplify the message and reach new audiences?

Ludmila: Yes, because we have many developers that work today, and they just don’t know the possibilities using mainframe and open-source. So this project is amazing to give opportunities to developers. They’re already creating amazing products.

Steven: Fantastic. One of the things that’s been big and hot in our community over the last few months since the summer has been this Zowe Project. This is bringing open-source and crowdsourcing development to the once closed world of ZED OS, which for me is just really fundamental and transformational about the way that open-source as a movement is interacting with probably the last bastion of closed source code, ZED OS. So for me, it’s been a really transformational time. Question for me, how does open-source help with the challenges of universal mainframe development and particularity through a Zowe lens?

Ludmila: Open-source allows today’s developers to use the tools they are comfortable using. They can leverage the power of the platform with those specific skills.

Steven: You think it’s going to break down those sort of skills barriers and those barriers to entry to the platform. Is that where you think Zowe is going to be most powerful?

Ludmila: Yes, because you don’t need specific skills, and open-source connects everybody today and this project is amazing and it’s very recent and I’m looking forward to working closely with students. Especially in Brazil next year.

Steven: A couple of questions I ask everybody in this type of forum. First off, if you had a crystal ball, and you could look three to five years into the future, would you be able to give us your view of the mainframe three to five years from now? How do you think it’s going to be impacting the industry?

Ludmila: Wow. That’s a tough question.

Steven: It catches everybody out. So it’s a good one to make you think.

Ludmila: Yeah. In my point of view, I expect that the developer community & the students can see the modern mainframe the way we both know. I see that in three years, considering all situations we are facing in many countries, this can position us in a very important platform to many industries such as education and banking, since we already have already a long history with them.

Steven: Okay. The second question that I always ask is if you could speak to the Ludmila that was at college, and go back in your own life, what would you say to the young 20-year-old Ludmilla about how to build a career on this platform? What advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?

Ludmila: I shouldn’t say this and I hope that my dad doesn’t listen to your podcast. He’s been trying to pitch me this since I was 15 years old or before I could ever think about an IT degree. He is always pushing me like, “Hey, there are many job positions. Hey, this is amazing, and I am still working with this, and this is going to live forever, and you should be studying.”

Steven: As a father to a 15-year-old daughter, your advice is listen to your father.

Ludmila: Yes. I won’t show this podcast to him.

Steven: I’m going to play it to my daughter so that she listens to it somehow. This is fantastic. Just as we look to wrap up, Ludmila, just a sort of final couple of questions if you’ll permit me. Are there any specific requests or interests you have within the Open Mainframe Project as you look ahead for this next 12 months?

Ludmila: I am very excited about Zowe and the new ways students will be able to interact with the platform. I wanted to be able to share it with them, and provide them the opportunities to participate in the open-source community, so that they can build their skills.

Steven: Okay. You see internships and Zowe as the things that are of most interest to you over the next 12 months?

Ludmila: Yes. The real life experience is something that helps you create your path with your career. It’s a very good opportunity.

Steven: My final question, what advice do you have for the mainframers working in the IT industry?

Ludmila: For this one, we would have to record a new podcast to just talk about it.

Steven: If I can keep you brief Ludmila, what would be your maybe top two or three pieces of advice?

Ludmila: First of all, I think the most important is to shift perception, because we need to promote our strengths, our value impact, and the opportunities in mainframe. Mainframe is such a modern technology with so many possibilities, that we all should be talking about this all day. If I can say, please remove the acronyms. Remove the jargo. Remove all these letters from the job descriptions because it’s not helping to attract the new professionals. The new generations don’t know those names. They don’t know what JCL is but, they are amazing programmers. They can learn about COBOL. They can pursue any mainframe job position. But sometimes, they are afraid of the acronyms. Once again, be close to school, your faculty and students, because you can be a guest speaker to a mainframe class. You can be a mentor. There are so many possibilities, but we need to put everybody together and connect all mainframers.

Steven: Ludmila, that’s been fantastic. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you over the last few minutes. Any parting comments? Any final things before we wrap up?

Ludmila: I think the last thing that I would add here, it’s important to us to go to the community where we can find the mainframers. We don’t have to expect them to come to ours. That’s the reason why I am parting up meetups, conferences, communication channels. I’m organizing a series of meetups in Brazil, and I think everybody should be creating and promoting this knowledge and experience to the students and future mainframers.

Steven: I couldn’t agree more, Ludmila. I think getting involved in the community and building the platform and breaking down some of those barriers is certainly why I see myself as a mainframer. From our conversation today, it sounds like that’s where you see yourself as a proud mainframer. Thank you very much for your time today, Ludmila. It’s been fantastic to talk to you.

Ludmila: Thank you, Steven. It was great.

Steven: You’ve joined me, Steven Dickens on the Open Mainframe Project, I’m a Mainframer podcast. Please look for us on iTunes and other platforms and click the subscribe button. We’re going to be here talking to you on a regular basis around what it means to be a mainframer going forward on this platform. Thanks so much for your time today.

Open Mainframe Project Internship Program

By | Blog

Finding a job in 2019 can be a very difficult task for students looking to establish themselves in their desired careers, especially for those looking to work in tech. However, students can land their dream job by participating in a valuable internship program.

Internships can help students begin their careers by allowing them to gain valuable working experience and acquire the skills that employers look for in job candidates. Internships also allow students to build their professional network by networking and collaborating with other professionals. By working as an intern, recent or soon to be graduates will have a better chance at landing their dream job.

The Open Mainframe Project is committed to training the next generation of mainframers and is proud to do this through its internship program. Now in its fourth year, the OMP internship program offers an opportunity for eight students to select a development project – presented by member companies – that’s based on Linux and open source software. Interns will work remotely with a mentor for the duration of the internship and learn more about all things open source and mainframes.

Due to the mentorship and real-world experience given to interns, the OMP program has seen a 100% increase in applicants each year.

At the end of the program, interns will have the chance to present their project at an upcoming industry conference. OMP will provide a stipend for travel for each student, and will provide professional resources and training to help build their professional skills.

Students interested in participating in the internship program are encouraged to submit their applications by the February 16th deadline. For a list of suggested intern development projects, please see our Project Ideas Page. To learn more about the program, or to submit your application for program, please click here.

Stay tuned here for more details about the internship program by former interns themselves! They’ll share their experience, key learnings and what to expect as an intern.

2018 Mainframe Year in Review

By | Blog

Steven Dickens, host of the “I am A Mainframer” Podcast & Open Mainframe Project Marketing Chair, recently penned a blog for Mainframe Debate. Steven takes an in-depth look into the role that mainframe technology played in 2018, including the release of OMP’s Zowe project. 

As 2019 kicks off its still (just about) time to review 2018 in the world of the mainframe. This technology platform despite its advancing years is still evolving and re-defining itself and continuing to stay at the forefront of enterprise computing.  In this blog, we will look back on what this writer thinks are the seminal moments in the mainframe world in 2018.


I had the pleasure to be ‘in the room where it happened’, if you will excuse the Hamilton play reference, when Zowe launched at SHARE in St Louis this summer. Zowe is an open source project hosted by the Open Mainframe Project which is a collaborative project under the Linux Foundation structure.  Zowe offers modern interfaces to interact with z/OS and allows you to work with z/OS in a way that is similar to what you experience on cloud platforms today. You can use these interfaces as delivered or through plug-ins and extensions that are created by clients or third-party vendors.  Zowe consists of the following main components.


While the tech is cool and you should look to get involved in how this code base develops, for me the more interesting thing is the Open Source, crowd sourced nature of the project.  z/OS has long been the poster child for a closed. proprietary, single company developed OS.  This changed with the launch of Zowe.  IBM opening up the core of z/OS to the wider community and letting everyone have access via GitHub and just get stuck in is huge, and for me at least is the arbiter for things to come for the platform as a whole.

ICP Manage-from capability

IBM’s Cloud Platform or ICP is the future of software for how IBM envisages multi and hybrid cloud management.  We see clients deploying private, public and hybrid clouds in increasing complexity. The whole cloud space is maturing with clients, quite rightly, seeing the various pros and cons of various on and off premises models as well as looking for sourcing variety in their public cloud deployments.  IBM is as far as I can tell the only vendor that sees this multi, hybrid model as the future for clients and is building solutions for this reality, while others look to drive vendor lock-in.

The mainframe is a large part of a client’s IT estate and rightly has a strategic role to play in how this private cloud platform interacts with other on-premises and public cloud instances.  ICP will manage this cloud orchestration and provisioning layer in a multi-platform way.  Further with the announcement of ICP manage from, clients can now look to deploy the management nodes directly on their mainframe or LinuxONE platform.  This is huge for clients who want to deploy the mainframe as a cloud manager and not have to rely on commodity x86.

Blockchain on premises

2018 was the year where Blockchain spilt over into the public consciousness, mainly as the underlying platform for Bitcoin, but for the business community not having an active Blockchain project probably meant you weren’t ‘cool’.  IBM has long offered enterprise Blockchain based on LinuxONE technology on the IBM Cloud.  This enabled clients to take advantage of both the resilience and security of LinuxONE as they looked to deploy their Blockchain projects. However the public cloud was the only IBM supported deployment option.  Not now. IBM Blockchain Platform now enables clients to deploy a supported hyperledger fabric and all of the required management tooling behind their firewall and on-premises.  This enables clients to take greater control of their infrastructure, rest easier about data residency and also explore models where their Blockchain deployment can sit on the same infrastructure as their ‘system of record’.  This choice to be able to deploy on LinuxONE in your own datacenter, will, in my opinion, drive new innovative uses cases and widen the deployment of Blockchain as a technology.


IBM late in 2018 signed a multi-year strategic relationship with Samsung Electronics where the latter will fabricate the IBM designed next generation of 7nm based Z and LinuxONE chips.  This long-term strategic partnership cements the future of the platform and reconfirms the long-term commitment by IBM to the mainframe and LinuxONE platforms for many years to come… This is definitely an announcement you will want to read more on, so check out the IBM press release here.

ZR1 & Rockhopper II

Finally, no mainframe review of 2018 could go to press without referring to the ZR1 and Rockhopper II launch mid-year.  Having the mainframe ship in an industry standard form factor is significant in so many ways for the platform.  A few years back I met with the head of datacenter design for a co-location datacenter where hyperscale cloud providers hosted their infrastructure.  This person was new to the mainframe, and after listening to my pitch they were impressed with what the box had to offer.  However, the physical dimensions of the box were an issue.  When I dug deeper the client responded: “well apart from being too deep, too wide, too tall, the heat flow being back to front and the cables coming out of the wrong place, the box is a great fit for our environment.”  All of this changed with the ZR1 and Rockhopper II.

All in all a pretty seminal year for the Mainframe platform, Open Source development in z/OS, Blockchain, Cloud, Chip development and new boxes launched to much fanfare.  With what I know about the plans for 2019, this year plans to be just as exciting…

Read more at Mainframe Debate.


Join Open Mainframe Project at Open Fintech Forum on Oct 10-11!

By | Blog

Written by Len Santalucia, Chair of the Open Mainframe Project Governing Board and CTO of Vicom Infinity

The Open Mainframe Project will be at The Linux Foundation’s first-ever Open FinTech Forum on October 10-11 in New York to shed light on the modern mainframe.

The modern mainframe is touted as the core of trusted digital experiences and operates in some of the largest and most demanding computing environments in the world. From the days of the System/360 in the mid 1960’s through to the modern mainframe of the z14 the systems have been designed along four guiding principles of security, availability, performance and scalability.

On October 11 at 11:30 am, John Mertic, Director of ODPi, and Goran Begic, Sr. Director of Product Management at CA Technologies, will present a session titled, “Connecting Modern Application Developments to the Mainframe with Zowe.” Attendees will learn about Open Mainframe Project, details about the newly launched Zowe and showcase how attendees can get involved in this new open source project based on z/OS.

Additionally, several Open Mainframe Project members will participate in a panel discussion titled, “The Resurgence of Mainframe in Modern Industry: insights from key executives on the future of this cornerstone technology.”

In this panel session, you’ll hear perspectives of key executives in the mainframe space on the current and future of the mainframe, as well as how open source technology is driving growth and cementing mainframe as a sustainable infrastructure choice for decades to come.

I will be moderating the panel and Alan Clark from SUSE, Steve Conger from ADP, Calista Redmond from IBM and Andy Youniss from Rocket Software will join me.

Here’s a little preview of what to expect from the panel.

“We’ve got a great set of perspectives on the constant evolution of the mainframe. Let’s talk future-proofing and modernizing a highly secure enterprise infrastructure, with an open and collaborative approach.” – Calista Redmond

“We are building the next generation of mainframe leaders by lowering barriers and making the platform accessible to everyone. Zowe was created in response to customer demand – users have been asking for open source for many years to help them overcome the skills gap and extend the value of their mainframe infrastructures. We are all on a journey together as a community to make this a reality.” – Andy Youniss

Learn more about these sessions:

Sujay Solomon: I am a Mainframer

By | Blog, I Am A Mainframer

In our latest “ I am a Mainframer” interview series, Steven Dickens, WW Sales Leader – LinuxONE at IBM, chats with Sujay Solomon. Sujay has been in the Mainframe industry for 8 years. With an array of experience in technical leadership roles such as z/OS system software development, web development and product management roles, he is now leading CA’s initiative to modernize the Mainframe for developers. Steven and  Sunjay discuss the business processes and business that the Mainframe platform is supporting, Zowe and the future of the Mainframe.

If you’re a Mainframe enthusiast or interested in the space, we invite you to check out our new community forum.

Steven Dickens: Good day. I’m Steven Dickens and it’s my pleasure to host another edition of the I’m a Mainframer conversation series, sponsored by the Open Mainframe Project. As a Linux Foundation project, the Open Mainframe Project is intended to help create a Mainframe-focused open source technical community focused around collaborative engagement on the Mainframe platform. I’m joined today by Sujay Solomon from CA. Thanks for joining us, Sujay.

Sujay Solomon: Thank you, Steven. Happy to be here.

Steven Dickens: Sujay, this is all about why you’re a Mainframer. If you can just get our listeners a little bit orientated and tell us a little bit about yourself and give us some background. And really first off try and understand what makes you a Mainframer and what makes you so passionate about the platform.

Sujay Solomon: Sure. I am, I’m actually a Product Manager now, so I haven’t been writing code for a little while. But what attracted me to the platform was I went to Penn State for computer engineering. And that degree is interesting. It’s somewhat of a marriage between computer science and electrical engineering. You do a little bit of hardware and you do a little bit of software. And it kind of meets in the middle.

Because of that background from Penn State I was interested always in doing and working on things that powered the back end of things. The engine, if you wish. And I, right out of college I actually worked for a start-up where I was designing and building code for microcontrollers. And it just happened to be that that was being done in Assembly language, believe it or not.

And then I saw an opening in Penn State’s career website that said there’s a position for a software engineer at CA Technologies in Pittsburgh. It might involve a decent bit of Assembler for that programing and I said, “You know, I like what I’m doing now.” I didn’t really know about Mainframes but I just went out and Googled Mainframe a little bit. And then I found out that there’s all these very important technologies and businesses today that run with the Mainframe as their backbone. From what I had heard about Mainframes in the past, from movies and such, was that they need to be hacked because they’re very important. Until I did some bit of research I didn’t know what they actually did.

But then again I considered it, I looked at it and I mean it was a very stable platform that had been around for a very long time. I said, “Why not? Let’s go and interview for this. I’ve had my year of fun with start-ups, let’s go and look for something that’s more long term.” That’s how I got started with the Mainframe platform.

Steven Dickens: You started out as an Assembler programmer and that’s what drew you into the platform, is that a good summary?

Sujay Solomon: Yeah, absolutely. It’s the fact that when you’re developing code at that level you need a very clear and good understanding of how the system works at an operating system level. And maybe even at the hardware level. But you still have to have your fundamentals of writing software and developing code in a good place as well. I liked that aspect of it where I wasn’t writing a whole lot of high level, abstracted code and I was doing more coding that was very close to the operating system and the hardware. That’s absolutely what attracted me.

Steven Dickens: Keen to get a view underneath that a little bit. I mean, you obviously learnt Assembler, you came out of college, got into that start-up, were writing that code close to the hardware layer. Tell me a little bit more about that transition as you went from that world to the Mainframe world. Was it an easy transition for you to make? I think a lot of our listeners would be interested to understand how you made that transition.

Sujay Solomon: Yeah. My response here is usually a little bit different from what I’ve heard from others. I actually didn’t have much of an issue. It’s, Mainframe is just another computer. And the architecture that’s followed in the Mainframe platform is well defined and actually one of the common architecture that’s followed even in other platforms. To me, learning about how a computer works at its core was very key at Penn State. And their curriculum was such that they didn’t focus much on specific languages or specific technologies. It was more so concepts that drive how computing works.

And that really helped me when I joined CA and we were doing a lot of development and operating systems level things. And it was really enjoyable for me because it was really the concept that I was learning. And then actually putting them to work from what I learned in college was way more interesting to me than what language I was writing the code in.

The transition for me was fairly easy. Especially when it comes to the language. I had no issue with picking up high level Assembler as opposed to writing in the microcontroller Assembly language I was using previously. I did do quite a bit of C-programming as well. Along with Assembler on the Mainframe. And again, both are languages that I really enjoy writing in.

The concepts in Mainframe when it comes to, say, things like cross-memory posting, managing your virtual storage, topics like that, they were challenging but it was also very, very interesting. That’s what drew me in and kept me here is the technical complexity of the platform when it comes to writing very efficient code. And you having full understanding of what you’re writing and how the machine’s gonna actually interpret that and run that for you.

Steven Dickens: I’m just, as I was prepping for this Sujay, was looking at your profile on LinkedIn and looking at the eight years or so you’ve been at CA. Pretty stellar rise through the ranks there from a software engineer through to your current role. Can you just give these listeners a view of what you’ve been involved in, some of those interesting projects. And really a whistle-stop tour through your time at CA. I think the listeners will find that really interesting.

Sujay Solomon:  Sure. Just to go back to your previous question, you asked if moving to the and working in a Mainframe platform was challenging. The technology itself wasn’t really challenging but the expectations in the Mainframe world were quite challenging. I was maybe two weeks into my job and I worked on a performance management product which was quite key at CA. And they had me look into an issue that the customer had opened. And I worked it out, I came up with a fix and I wrote a PTF which you can consider a patch and another technology, right?

And I released that not as a public thing, but as a closed off fix for just one customer. And I get a call directly from one of the Directors of Mainframe in that company and he’s drilling me over intricate details of the fix that I wrote. I certainly did not expect that. But trial by fire like that really put me in a place to understand how important this platform is for people. And the fact that somebody that high up in their organization was technically proficient and looked at a fix and was concerned and then he called me up directly to ask questions about how it was implemented … That opened my eyes as far as how important this platform is.

And going forward I work on other products that even plug directly into the operating system. And if you’re, say, opening up a data set on the Mainframe and somebody else is opening it up at the same time there’s serialization issues that can occur. I actually worked on quite a bit of operating system exits that would handle serialization issues like that.

One of the times we, a large bank in Europe was having some issues with ATMs. And they didn’t really know what the issue was but they essentially said, “Hey, CA. We have your software. IBM we are using your platform. You guys work together to sort this out. We don’t care what the problem is but we need our ATMs to be back and running right away.” That involved being on bridge calls with the customer, with other vendors for many days straight. Across weekends, even nights and then we all worked together to solve this issue because this was a customer who was really dependent on the Mainframe. And as vendors who create software and hardware for the platform we all work together to solve issues like that.

That sort of experience was rewarding for me. It’s solving real world problems that touch people lives every day. It’s just working on the software that runs it.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, and I think that’s obviously a challenge we’ve got as we position the Mainframe out to different audiences. It’s, as you mentioned in one of your statements, the box at the back end. It’s not front and center for a lot of our clients. It’s the box that never falls over at the back of the data center that just runs the business. I mean, have you seen that as you’ve engaged? That critical, sorry, criticality to clients? And if you could maybe give a CA perspective on some of the business processes and business that this platform’s supporting, that’d be interesting, I think.

Sujay Solomon:  Sure. Again, before I got into product management I was engineer. I was working, I was supporting products as a level 2 engineer, but also actively doing development on it. One of the things that I had to do was I was actually on call over, at night and on weekends. So if I was going hiking in the mountains I still had to make sure that I had phone signal and I usually lugged my laptop around in case I got called. And then it has happened. I’ve been at friends’ places at 3 o’clock in the morning and I’ve had to attend calls where they said, “Hey. We’re having a data center outage and we run your software. Again, we don’t know what the issue is, please look into it.”

And you just have to get on that call and get to it because as minutes go by with their Mainframes not working, they’re losing maybe thousands, hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions of dollars in business. With just a few minutes of the Mainframe not operating. That’s the level of importance that the industry has on the Mainframe platform.

And CA absolutely has so much process in place. We have rotations of folks who are gonna be on call. And multiple layers, even, or a certain person who’s maybe in Support gonna get called first. And then if they’re not able to solve it they have multiple levels of escalation and everybody’s number is on file and they can get called at any time. That’s part and parcel of working in an environment and an industry like this where you’re really key when it comes to continuing the business operations. And to me that’s actually rewarding. I don’t see that as a burden. I see that more as, hey, the key businesses in this world rely on our technology being highly available. And we are the people who help make it highly available if it ever runs into issue. That’s very rewarding.

Steven Dickens:  Yeah, I think that’s just part of being in this Mainframe space. There’s a different code, if you will, around what it means to be a Mainframer and what it means to support these clients. It’s good to get that perspective and I think it’s interesting to hear you say, and I certainly feel this way, is we’re supporting these clients. That’s a good thing. You feel like you’re giving something back and there’s … The world runs on these platforms so to be involved in them is a positive thing.

Looking ahead Sujay, there’s some interesting stuff going on right now as we look at the Mainframers and overall platforms. Some fantastic announcements at SHARE recently. Can you just give me your view of where you think open source and the Mainframe platform come together? And really how you see that shaping not only the platform but just how customers are gonna interact with it going forward?

Sujay Solomon: Sure. One of the challenges that we’ve had over the past decade with the platform is since it’s closed source, folks have been able to improve the accessibility of our platform to the level that some of the other platforms have achieved. And that’s starting to become an issue because when you look at, just take for example DevOps tools. Things like, I think they use integration tools like Jenkins or build tools like Gradle, Gulp, Ant, Maven. These are now becoming synonymous with software development. Not necessarily tied to any platform.

You could build software that runs on Windows or Linux or maybe even different distributions of Linux. All of the software that runs on those different platforms can be built using the same build tools, can be managed using the same  pipelines. The fact that it’s a little bit of a challenge to integrate Mainframe into those standard tools that are becoming prominent in the software industry, that is a problem.

And I believe with the initiative that we announced at SHARE called Zowe, our intent is to really, not necessarily solve that entire problem. But kickstart an openness to the platform. And start building some infrastructure that would allow the community of users and customers and individual developers to really start building integration into these open tools that are available. And are becoming very popular with developers in general.

But sometimes I say that we’re trying to make Mainframe just another platform. But obviously we’re not trying to reduce the scalability, availability, security or any of those great aspects of the platform that we have. Just add to it by making it more accessible.

Steven Dickens: Yeah, that’s interesting. I think open source brings a lot to that. I mean, what’s your view on how that community’s gonna build around something like Zowe? Sounds like a strong focus on the technology but if you give me the community perspective, what do you think that community engagement’s gonna bring to a network like Zowe?

Sujay Solomon: Sure. Up until now if you wanted to influence what happens on the platform, there were a few avenues. There is a, within the SHARE organization they have something called SHARE requirements. And then that was one way to influence what goes into the platform. But now with the power of open source, it’s a home for anybody who is interacting with a platform to really start looking at it and saying, “Hey. I’ve got this program that I wrote, this  program I wrote that helps me greatly every day with maybe looking at system on the Mainframe.”

I don’t particularly see this as a business advantage for me, just keeping it to myself. And I don’t even want to maintain all of it myself. Maybe I’ll just up in the open source foundations, GitHub, and a lot of others might start using it. And they may even start enhancing this utility that you shared yourself. And you might reap the rewards of you open sourcing it because others are enhancing it and you’re now able to take advantage of what other folks are building in their tool that you shared.

That is really what we want to build and promote and nurture. Is build that community around the platform where folks feel comfortable sharing their tools, sharing their ideas so that the platform as a whole can grow. Without having to go through a lot of process and influencing say just a couple of vendors and improving it.

Steven Dickens:  Yeah. And I think I certainly get the perspective that that kind of crowd-sourced community development is where the industry’s going. We’ve certainly seen that explosive growth of the model for how code is developed. And it’s really interesting for me to see that increasingly coming to the Mainframe platform. As you say, not moving away from the performance availability, security, but adding to the platform. And just making it not only able to play nice with others as part of a DevOps type framework. But also just harness the community, harness that crowd to develop on the platform.

One of the questions I’m gonna ask and get you ready mentally for this Sujay, so this one’s gonna challenge you. Where do you see things 18 months, three years, five years out for the Mainframe platforms? You look ahead and into that crystal ball, where do you see the platform going?

Sujay Solomon: Well, seems like things have come full circle. When I was in college, mid-2000s and maybe even before that, there was a lot of talk that Mainframes are going away. We’re gonna try to migrate everything to the cloud. That sort of thing. But what I’ve noticed recently is actually kind of a reinvigoration of interest and commitment to the platform from a lot of companies. Because they seem to have realized that there’s quite a few aspects to the Mainframe that are, that really cannot be replaced by anything else.

There’s also a lot of investment that has gone into the platform. There’s, I mean, think about the 30, 40 plus years of business logic that’s been written and enhanced and refined over these years. Why rewrite that? Why move that somewhere else if you can make what’s on the Mainframe highly accessible and open? So that you’re not inhibited by the platform when it comes to innovation. That’s key, is that we need to be able to drive innovation on the platform. It can’t just be a platform that is kept maintained well. It’s gotta be a place for innovation. And I believe that that’s starting to happen.

Today I think folks at larger organizations are just accepting and realizing that the platform is not going away. And they’re starting to reinvest in it. I’ve even heard that some of them are even moving non-traditional workloads. Things like Java workload or an OJS workload from other cloud platforms into the Mainframe platform. I think next year, or maybe a couple of years from now, we’re gonna see more of that. Where maybe there’s an application that’s running somewhere in the cloud that’s not meeting SOA. And the data that that application interacts with is actually on the Mainframe.

Those types of applications, if we make it simple enough for, say, a web developer to deploy a web application to the Mainframe. The same way that they can use something like a COI to deploy to another cloud platform. As long as we make it as simple and as accessible I believe Mainframe is now gonna start taking a spot when it comes to enterprise architecture where they consider different deployment platforms. Mainframe needs to be considered as one of the options there and I believe that is starting to happen.

Steven Dickens:  Yeah, I think we share a lot of the same views, Sujay. I think I see an exciting future ahead. And some of the work that you guys are doing around Zowe and the open source collaborative piece is only just gonna help that.

One final question as we look to wrap up our time today. The format of this is I’m a Mainframer. What would you say to yourself back as you were leaving college, if you could do that, around the platform? How would you energize the college kids graduating this year to get into the platform and follow your path and become a Mainframer?

Sujay Solomon: That’s actually a tough one. I really liked what Penn State did for me. They did not teach me a hell of a lot about specific languages or specific platforms. I learned concepts. Just normal programming concepts, computing concepts, hardware concepts. And I was able to take those concepts and I picked a platform that I thought was viable and long standing and that had an important place in today’s businesses. And for me there’s really nothing better than Mainframe data when it comes to longevity and stability and importance in the real world.

I wouldn’t get too caught up with the different languages. They come and go. If you look at UI frameworks there’s flavor of the year, sometimes even flavor of the month, frameworks that come and go. I would focus more on, if you’re learning the infrastructure of a platform, the skills all transfer over. I’ve myself gone from doing heavy duty Mainframe system level Assembler fee development. I’ve done some JavaScript and Java web development. The transition between the two really wasn’t bad for me.

That would be my advice, then, to keep your options open. Look at the platform and try to understand why it really is, plays such a key role in today’s economy and in various industries. And the skills you learn there are transferable to any other platform if you ever get bored and you wanna move around like I did. Options are always there for you.

Steven Dickens: That’s fantastic. I think that’s really good coaching. I think the Sujay of 22 years old would have appreciated that type of insight. Thank you for that.

Sujay, this has been fantastic today. Really good to get your perspective, really good to get a view of where you’ve grown as a Mainframer. Your initial experience at the platform. Your perspective of where we are right now with some of the things that are happening. And just that looking ahead and that view 18 months, three years out of where the platform’s gonna be. Thank you very much for your time today.

Sujay Solomon: Thank you, Steven.

Steven Dickens:  This is Steven Dickens signing off. You’ve been listening to the Open Mainframe Project I’m a Mainframer podcast. Please look forward, please look for us and join us next time.


I am a Mainframer

By | Blog, I Am A Mainframer

By Steven Dickens, Open Mainframe Project Marketing Committee Chair and IBM Global Sales Leader

What does it mean to declare you are a fan of a particular technology? Are you a casual user who kind of thinks the technology is cool, or does it have to be more than that? Do you need to be a developer or a super user? Can a new user declare a passing interest and still self-declare they are a fan?

Regardless of where you fall on this scale, the “I am a Mainframer” podcast series from the Open Mainframe Project has something for you. This newly rebooted podcast series hopes to be an informal entry point for the first time user of the mainframe, right through to providing insight to the 30-year technology veteran.

In this podcast series, I hope to provoke, stimulate and actively encourage the guest to share what brought them to the mainframe platform and get under the covers of how their careers have developed. I then plan to dig into what they are working on and the hot project that is driving their mainframe passion here and now. Finally, in every episode I will encourage the guest to look up from the daily grindstone and look ahead to what they see on the horizon.

Along the way, we will hopefully share some fun anecdotes and stories that will provide the much need color in this world of overtly polished marketing podcasts… rest assured in this podcast series we will be heavy on the fun and insights and light on the marketing fluff!

So please look to join me every month as we look to get a view into the careers of those who are shaping the mainframe technology space and more widely the enterprise and mission computing worlds. You can make sure you never miss an episode of this podcast series by subscribing here. If you want to be a future guest of the show, please send an email to