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Linux Foundation to blaze a path forward for mainframes

Linux Foundation to blaze a path forward for mainframes

The Linux Foundation's Open Mainframe Project is targeting the development of mainframe applications and skill sets, and now has its own Big Iron to work with.

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Open-source software development will be a key component to keeping the mainframe a vibrant part of current and future enterprise architectures.

With that in mind the Open Mainframe Project, part of the Linux Foundation, this week said at its Open Mainframe Summit that it was forming a working group to promote mainframe-modernisation efforts and that it had acquired its own Big Iron to spur future development.

The working group will create a common definition and framework defining what mainframe modernisation should look like and promote open-source development on the Big Iron.

The new group will focus on the term modernisation, which it says is used to mean different things and so is causing confusion. Some define modernisation as moving away from mainframes and COBOL, and others define it as updating existing systems in place.

The group includes Broadcom Mainframe Software, IBM, Micro Focus, Model9, Rocket Software, SUSE, and Vicom Infinity. Among its goals:

  • Collaborating on a common definition of mainframe modernisation.
  • Creating a framework through which all vendors can highlight their modernisation options.
  • Creating one go-to place for information about mainframe modernisation.
  • Identifying opportunities for future Open Mainframe projects to enable modernisation.

In addition to the new working group, the Open Mainframe Project now has an actual mainframe to work with. Project leaders said that Broadcom’s Mainframe Software Division had donated a IBM z15 mainframe system that will be dedicated to training next-generation talent and developing new open software technologies.

“We saw a special opportunity to lift the open-mainframe ecosystem to a new level," said Greg Lotko, senior vice president and general manager, of Broadcom’s Mainframe Software Division in a statement. "The donation of the z15 mainframe is an important investment that will accelerate projects, skills, growth, and open innovation for the mainframe community."

With more than 20 current projects and working groups, multiple technical communities  need mainframe hardware to test open source code.

The z15, which will be hosted at Marist College, helps support those projects and also equips the groups to build use cases. It will also be available as a development, test, and continuous-delivery environment for open-source projects, and enable developers  to  support both z/OS and Linux on s390x, according to Lotko.

In addition, the z15 can be used in mainframe-skills training. The Mainframe Open Education and COBOL Working Group are now positioned to offer a real-world environment to prepare learners as they transition to full-time careers in the mainframe industry, said John Mertic, director of program management at the Linux Foundation.

For years, Linux and open source have been cited as keeping mainframes vital with the development of new applications.

Most recently IBM introduced the fourth generation of its LinuxOne servers, featuring the same Telum processor found in the System Z mainframe. The IBM LinuxONE Emperor 4 server only runs Linux-based workloads and is tailored to meet the needs of Linux workloads in the data centre.

In addition, Linux-based workloads running on a Z series will be portable to the Emperor server, which can run Red Hat, SuSe, and Canonical Linux distributions.

For its part, The Open Mainframe Project earlier this year released version 2 of its Zowe framework for securely developing z/OS cloud applications and tools.

Version 2 featured improvements including embedded security and performance improvements for its command-line interface.


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