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Serena Malkani

A Tribute to Erich Bloch

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Last month, the Mainframe Community said farewell to Erich Bloch. He was 91 years old and passed away of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.  

Erich was involved with developing IBM’s first transistorized supercomputer, 7030 Stretch, and mainframe computer, System/360.  System /360 enabled IBM to dominate the computer market for a quarter-century and this is the same technology that now supports many of the world’s financial, federal, and education systems.  

Len Santalucia, Chairperson of Open Mainframe Project tell us,  “It has been an honor to have had the opportunity to work on the IBM Mainframe for almost 40 years. The world and I owe so much to Erich Bloch who helped develop the IBM Mainframe and his legacy will always be carried on in our daily lives.”

To put things in perspective, just think of this:

If Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn were to shut down it would be just an irritation or inconvenience and the world would still keep functioning. If all the Mainframes in the world were to shut down, it would be a worldwide catastrophe. Airlines would be grounded, banks and financial markets could not function, UPS and FedEx could not deliver packages, and the Federal agencies such as the Federal Reserve, FBI,  and Home Land Security would come to a screeching halt, to name a few consequences.

Today, the Open Mainframe Project will carry on Erich’s Mainframe legacy to the next level where anyone, anywhere will be able to access and benefit from the greatest platform on earth. Erich will is smiling down at us and guiding us as we embark on this next great journey.



Contributed Article by Len Santalucia


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Open Mainframe Project Summer 2017 Intern Program Now Accepting Applications

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Open Mainframe Project is accepting eight student interns during the summer of 2017 to work in the Open Mainframe Project development community. Each intern will work closely with a mentor for the duration of his/her internship. For a list of suggested intern development projects, please see our Project Ideas Page. Internship development projects do not need to be limited to ideas on this wiki page. If you have a great idea for a development activity for Open Mainframe Project, you can submit the idea as part of your application and, if chosen, the Open Mainframe Project Internship Administrator will find a suitable mentor for you.

Each intern will work remotely from his/her location of choice. There is no physical work facility provided or required.

The Open Mainframe Project will also give the ability for each intern successfully completing the program to present their project at an industry conference. The Open Mainframe Project will provide a stipend for travel for each student. To help support the student for presenting, the project will provide professional resources and training to help build their presentation skills.

One of our 2016 interns,  Matthew Franklin describes his participation: “My project was to work on porting and adding on to the Linux system monitoring tool called “htop”.  It was a great experience to work with my mentor, Mr. Nathan Roberts on this project and I enjoyed it very much.  The SHARE conference was also a one of a kind experience for me.   It was very interesting to hear the various experts of the mainframe field talk about new developments in the platform.  It was quite empowering for me to see someone my age take on a project so immense. The whole internship inspires me to keep working hard at these projects and to undertake more projects to further my skills.”

Click here  for more details and to apply!


About the Open Mainframe Project 

The Open Mainframe Project is intended to serve as a focal point for deployment and use of the Linux OS in a mainframe computing environment. The Project intends to increase collaboration across the mainframe community and to developed shared tool sets and resources. Furthermore, the Project seeks to involve the participation of academic institutions to assist in teaching and educating the mainframe Linux engineers and developers of tomorrow. Through our internship program, students can expand their knowledge of mainframe technology, while at the same time helping contribute to open source projects that will make it easier for these infrastructure applications to run on Linux on System Z.

The Open Mainframe Project – A Critical Industry Evolution

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The Open Mainframe Project – A Critical Industry Evolution

The Open Mainframe Project was established to create an open source, technical community that industry and community participants may easily participate in and so that they may contribute to the creation of assets and materials that will benefit the ecosystem around Linux and open source software on the mainframe.

DataKinetics joined the Open Mainframe Project in November of 2015 because it aligns perfectly with what we do at DataKinetics. We’ve been developing products and partnering with other ISVs to provide solutions for multi-platform enterprises for several years now, and intend to do even more in the months and years to come.

Linux on the mainframe

When IBM shocked the mainframe community, and launched Linux on the mainframe in the year 2000, it was a ‘shot heard around the world’.  Immediately it became obvious that the mainframe was about to change forever – and that was a change for the better.

There was no danger then, and there is no danger now of the mainframe legacy passing away. Large enterprises are retaining their high-value z/OS assets, and will do so for many years to come. Why? Primarily because of their massive fiscal investments in the technology, but no less so because the mainframe performs like a champ.

No, the legacy mainframe usage isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But the mainframe is seeing and will continue to see its most significant growth on the Linux side, and that will be accelerated by initiatives like the Open Mainframe Project.

IBM continues to make contributions in this area as well. For some time they have offered up Linux on z Systems – a version on Linux that can run concurrently on the same hardware as a z/OS installation (this has also been called zLinux or z/Linux – as well as LinuxONE, a Linux-only version of the mainframe.

At this time, more than a third of IBM mainframe clients are running Linux – growth in this area is important, but new customers need to be brought to the mainframe, and the Open Mainframe Project is part of the answer to help make that happen.

So where’s the interest?

Why isn’t there a stampede of new customers flocking to the mainframe? Well, there is a lot of history, misinformation and just plain bias to overcome. To folks who don’t know anything about mainframe computing, it reeks of obsolescence and high costs.

True, mainframe systems have been around for decades. But so has the automobile. And just like a Tesla Model S can hardly be compared to a Ford Model T, a z13 mainframe (2015) cannot be compared to an IBM 704 mainframe (1957). Not in proper context, anyway.

It is true that a mainframe system can me more costly to operate, but for good reason. A single mainframe can replace several racks full of commodity servers, consuming far less electric power, floor space and cooling capacity, and can be maintained by a much smaller systems support group. Yes, it can cost more, but the higher cost is more than offset by the amount of work that it handles. Just like the way a city bus costs more than a single commuter car, but hauls far more people to work in the morning.

Further confusing the issue, there are some smart people in IT who just don’t like the mainframe. Sometimes for reasons that aren’t really valid. Whether it’s a lack of understanding of the actual value of the mainframe, or the false perception of it as a “legacy” platform, or any other reason, bias needs to take a back seat – way, way, way back – to the actual numbers that demonstrate cost-effectiveness.

It’s going to be up to us, the mainframe ISVs and other open source champions to show the world that open source mainframe computing is in their own best interest. And not just by a little bit, either.

Open source moving forward

We are serious about our commitment to the open-source community by combining the best of the open source world with the most advanced computing system in the world, in order to help clients manage growing workloads (mobile and hybrid cloud, etc.). Building on the budding success of Linux on the mainframe, we continue to push the limits beyond the capabilities of commodity servers that are not designed for security and performance at extreme scale.

The open mainframe will allow customers to leverage their younger and more plentiful programmers and allow them to use the programming languages and the toolsets that they’re most comfortable using, and honestly, the same programming languages and toolsets that are used most often in today’s mainstream computing environments.

As customers, vendors and champions of mainframe technology, it’s also in all of our own best interests to promote the use of Linux on the mainframe. If the platform goes away, we’re left with doing the work that needs to get done using lesser platforms that actually cost more to run. And that’s going to be a disadvantage for all of us. It deserves to survive and thrive, for the good of customers, ISVs and industry as a whole.

While some vendors spend their time battling about whose products are better, or how they’re more committed than the other, DataKinetics prefers to look ahead and ensure a vibrant and successful future for the mainframe – the right tool for the right jobs. We have that in common with the Open Mainframe Project.

Contributed by Andrew Armstrong (Chief Customer Officer, DataKinetics)

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What Cloud Means to the Mainframe

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Over the summer a plucky band of dedicated mainframers began an ambitious new project: defining what cloud means to the mainframe and how we can help it along. The journey has not been smooth, but they are dedicated to the task. This post chronicles their journey thus far.

For a platform that deploys as many guests as we do, cloud management is a must. Since the dawn of time (well mainframe time), system programmers have needed a ways to manage large pools of resources efficiently and spin up new resources with a minimal amount of fuss. However, the rise of cloud computing paradigms in the past 10 years have thrown a wrench into the works. The great tide of interoperability threatens to wash away all previous solutions. What’s a good sysprog to do?

Wrestling with these big questions is exactly what the OpenStack Cloud Consortium for Mainframe Linux plans to do. The plucky band consisting of Open Mainframers, IBMers, Business Partners and Customers are trying to wrestle with the big questions of cloud. Particularly:

  • Do we need cloud on the mainframe?
  • What kind of clouds are the right answers for mainframe customers?
  • Is there a place for mainframes in open source cloud solutions?
  • What does that place or solution look like? Is it different for z/VM vs. KVM on z Systems?
  • How do existing tools and processes need to change to allow cloud to work?
  • How do cloud solutions need to change to include mainframes?
  • How do we as mainframers want to influence the open source cloud communities?

The consortium doesn’t have all the answers now, but we do have all the questions. We have currently identified three next steps on our interoperability journey:

  1. Identify a small group of mainframe customers who are interested in OpenStack and willing to share their experiences
  2. Get buy-in from the technical and business leaders who will implement the consortium’s findings
  3. Talk with the OpenStack open source community to get their thoughts on the customer experiences

So whether you’re a mainframe developer, customer, or user, the consortium would love to hear your voice! Email to join the mainframe cloud revolution!

You can also catch Emily’s brown bag session from OpenStack 2016 in Barcelona:

Contributed by Emily Kate Hugenbruch: @ekhugen

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