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I am a Mainframer: Steven Dickens

By | October 20, 2021

In today’s episode of the “I Am A Mainframer” podcast, we flip things around Joe Winchester sits in as a guest host and interviews  Steven Dickens, Vice President Sales, and Business Development, Senior Analyst at Futurum. On this podcast, they discuss Steven’s journey with the mainframe, advice for those just starting their journey with the Mainframe, and where he sees the Mainframe going in the future.

Listen now!

Steven Dickens:  Hello and welcome. You’re joining us here on the I Am A Mainframer podcast, brought to you by the Open Mainframe Project at a Linux Foundation collaborative project. I’m your host today. Or at least I am for the first 30 seconds. My name’s Steven Dickens, and I’m joined by a dear friend and former colleague, Joe Winchester. Hi, Joe. Welcome to the show.

Joe Winchester:  Hey, Steven. Thanks for having me on the show. And I guess, is this the point when we switch roles? 

Steven Dickens:  Yeah, well, let’s just explain to our listeners. I’m obviously the voice you get to hear most weeks, but Joe and I decided to flip things around today. And Joe’s going to be your host, and I’m going to be the guest. So, Joe, I’ll stop talking and let you take over the show.

Joe Winchester: All right, thanks, Steven. You’re looking well. I think the last time we met in person was in San Diego, wasn’t it? 

Steven Dickens: Yeah, that’s a while ago now. A while ago.

Joe Winchester: Open Source summit. Yeah. So yeah. You’re looking good. Just extend our best wishes to everybody else, obviously at home with the pandemic and so forth. Hope you’re real well. Hope you’re all staying safe.

And so Steven, a few questions I’ve got to start. The first obvious one is, last time we met, you were an IBM-er.

Steven Dickens: Okay.

Joe Winchester: And then I saw something on LinkedIn where you said, “Well, I…” Anyway, talk me through what’s going on with your career right now. Where are you now? And just fill in people on that.

Steven Dickens: Yeah. I mean, for the new listeners to the show, I am a long-time IBM man. I was at IBM for 10 years. Was involved in setting up the Open Mainframe Project as part of one of my roles. So ended up running the marketing committee for a while and ended up as the host of the show. About… What was it now? Two and a half months ago? I decided to move and sort of progress a really interesting, new step in my career, which was to take my opinions and get paid for writing about them.

So as anybody knows me, I’ve had an opinion for a long time. And it’s been a challenge for particular roles. But all joking aside, where I am now is, I’ve got really two roles for a fast-growing tech analyst firm called Futurum Research. So what we do is, if you think we’re in the same space as a Gartner, an IDC, or a Forrester, but a lot more nimble. A lot more social media and new media-focused. More podcasts, webcasts, getting that message out in a lot more of a consumable fashion.

So I’ve joined them to do two things: to be an analyst for about 25% of my time. Covering the mainframe and enterprise computing space, covering blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and Open Sources, a technology area. So relatively narrow swim lane, which equates to 25% of my time. The other 75% of my time is to run the revenue side of Futurum’s business. So sales, client engagements, and business development.

Joe Winchester: Oh, thanks, Steven. So very quickly, does that mean this is goodbye and farewell? [crosstalk]

Steven Dickens: No, it does not. You’re stuck with me, listeners. Unfortunately. So I’m working with Chris and John and Madeline, we thought the podcast was working well. And given that I’ve still going to be involved in the mainframe space and still covering the space closely, we thought it was a good thing to just keep on trucking with the show and keep things rolling. So unless this is a reverse takeover, Joe, the listeners are stuck with me, unfortunately.

Joe Winchester: Not at all, Steven! Not at all. No, it wasn’t. So it’s great to hear that you’ll still be doing the podcast. It’s wonderful. And I know people who personally tell me how much they get out of it. What about the RNP? You talked about your new venture. I’m sorry. I just…

Steven Dickens:  Futurum Research. Yeah. So that’s really interesting… That’s a good question actually. How am I going to stay involved? So I-

Joe Winchester: Yeah, with Mainframe. You touched on Open Source. Yeah. Is there a Mainframe angle? Are you casting your net a bit wider? Is there something that you can… Yeah. Talk about that if you could.

Steven Dickens: Yeah. So my net’s going to be a bit wider than just purely the mainframe. I’m more so covering the FinTech, Blockchain, and cryptocurrency space. If anybody follows me on Twitter, they know that’s a particular focus of mine. But still looking to build a mainframe practice within Futurum. I’m still going to stay very close to some of the main vendors, the likes of IBM, BMC, Compuware. I’m doing a panel session at the Open Mainframe summit in a few weeks time. So still heavily involved in the community.

Where I’m going to be involved in the Open Mainframe Project specifically is we’ve been working on a role with the board where I would stay in a limited capacity as a board advisor for specific topics. And I was really keen to stay involved in the project. It’s been a particular focus for me since we set it up back in 2015. So really wanted to stay and donate my time to the community in any way I can to make sure that this platform continues to be successful and continues to drive the innovation that we’ve seen.

Joe Winchester:  That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful to hear, Steven. So talk me through a little bit. So back in 2015, I think, is OMP was obviously part of the Linux Foundation. Linux needed… Linux on the mainframe needed a home. It was just… It was absolutely lock and key. It was a perfect fit. But then it’s transitioned into the whole [ZoX] world as well. And I’m wondering what you see- is there anything that you- looking back, is there anything that you wish the OMP had achieved during your time there? Or anything that you would like to pass the torch on? And from the outside and say, “You know what? This should be the next five years’ strategy. This is where I’d like the OMP and the mainframe to go.”

Steven Dickens: Yeah. I mean, certainly the original mandate, and the original extent of our thought back in 2015, as we had some code. We wanted to donate that to the Open Source community. We felt that there was an Open Source movement we could build around, particularly Linux on the platform. So that was probably the project’s focus for maybe even the first couple of years. Really trying to work and promote, bring more products, and Open Source projects to the platform through having a collaborative outreach to the wider Open Source community.

When the Zowe project came forward, it was a really interesting pivot for where OMP was. And I think it was natural. I was involved in a lot of the conversations. I think the collaboration between what at the time was CA, what was Rocket Software, and IBM. Getting those three organizations to work together, programmatically and strategically, and pull other players in, the Open Mainframe Project was the only mechanism to do that. So I think it was a really interesting pivot for the project.

I think what’s happened is now the Project’s a lot more balanced. It really truly does suit the platform. It suits… You’ve got a strong Linux and Open Source community. SUSE, they do a great job there at Canonical and Red Hat. There’s a whole community of players that take an active role in bringing new products and new Open Source packages to the platform. So I think that’s kind of a strong and vibrant community. But I think the addition of the z/OS space has been really, really interesting to grow. And I think the success of Zowe is really interesting.

 I think, where I’d like it to see go forward, I still think there are some satellite parts of the community that really are trying to take on administrative tasks that I don’t think they need to. So let me explain what I mean there. So there are some groups out in Europe and other parts of the world, maybe that isn’t aware of the Open Mainframe Project and its mission, that are trying to promote the platform, taking on administrative tasks, that could quite easily fit under the OMP and ultimately the Linux Foundation structure, where the support staff that they could tap into. So the academic activity going on in Germany and places out in China… There are various pockets of activity around the globe that I think could pull into… And just continue to do what they’re doing. Continue to be a focal point.

Joe Winchester: We talked about academics, but then if you could talk to other students. So one of the things that I’m very proud of working alongside colleagues as Cameron say, and Sudeshna [inaudible] and others is, for example, COBOL. So when COBOL got a bit of a beating at the start of the pandemic, I think there were some US government systems under duress and they were pointing the finger at COBOL. And the RMP was really in the right place for some of its training material. I don’t know if you could talk to that. I think that was something for me that was an eye-opener. I think there are now 8,000 people who have gone through the OMP COBOL training course. It’s the most popular Slack channel. It’s got almost 4,000 registered Slack users compared to the next Slack channel, which is- so talk to that. Do you think the academic stuff is very, very key to the future and of our impact?

Steven Dickens: I absolutely do. I wrote a piece and we’ll put the link in the show notes here around the Grace Hopper Code for Us Act that one of the congressmen- Congressman Cartwright put forward. And I think it was either last week or the week before. And I think that’s where the OMP and particularly the COBOL working group is making really good inroads.

I was, I spent some time doing some research for the piece that I put together. And what was interesting for me is the OMP was a rallying point for all of the participants in the mainframe ecosystem that had a role to play in promoting COBOL on the platform. I think what the COBOL working group is doing to promote in a non-vendor-specific way, COBOL on the platform is just exactly what the OMP should be doing. I think Derek and the team at Microfocus are doing a fantastic job to steward that, but it’s not about one particular vendor that language and the success of that language on our platform for our clients, for the platform’s vibrancy as a whole are just vital. So I think that’s exactly where the OMP should be spending its time, those collaborative efforts that are just good for the platform. All right.

Joe Winchester: You talk about a running point and it is, you’re amazing because not only Cameron, Derek, the whole OMP, the COBOL working group, then there was the training course. Then the training course itself started to use technology- it was Zowe technology which you brought up before, BS code, which is number one, that’s what the kids use these days. So it had some Zowe tech that gets thrown into the mix as well, which couldn’t have occurred without the OMP.

And you talked about vendors. So I’m going to touch on that a little bit. Do you feel, I think there are two things I’d like to talk about. I’m thinking Spanish inquisition for you. The first one I want to talk about beforehand, Open Source on the mainframe for some mainframe customers, I’ve been on the mainframe for 25 years or something like that. They look at Open Source and they think, well, you’re just going to let in malware, you’re going to let in I’m going to lose control of stuff. I’m betting my business on this. This is a 24-7 line of business banking, financial transactions. There’s an element of mistrust. How do you address that? And how would you address that for the CEO of an organization saying I’m not going to bet my business on OMP tech?

Steven Dickens: So it’s really interesting. And I think you’re starting to see some of these Open Source companies become multi-billion dollar companies. I wrote a piece on SUSE they’re now a market cap of over six billion. MongoDB with a multi-billion dollar market cap, obviously IBM paying 34 billion for Red Hat a couple of years ago. I think what we’ve seen is we- and Linux is now 30 years this year. We’ve seen Open Source move from the developer and the hobbyist into mission-critical environments and model is the innovation that happens in the community. And then people offer enterprise support contracts, testing certification, and support contracts on top of that dynamic Open Source space.

So I think the Open Mainframe Project and Zowe and these technologies are relatively new to this space. We’ve had Linux on the platform for what it is, just over 20 years now, but Open Source on z/OS is a couple of years old. I think what I’d see emerging over the next couple of years is somebody taking an enterprise snap of Zowe, turning it into a supported product with a one 800 number that you could call that would get supported. It’ll be tested. You may be running one 800 IBM or one 800 BROADCOM. And there’s a supported version of Zowe that you can get the same 24 by seven SEV one, SEV two-level support on. So.

Joe Winchester: Yeah, somebody to throw a rock at. [crosstalk]

Steven Dickens: Bank of America or Citi or Barclays can say that it’s as supported as anything else, but you’ve still got that strong, Open Source innovation going on. And the community is still thrashing at code. [crosstalk]

Joe Winchester:  It’s really like the relationship between, I guess you could say Unix and Red Hat Linux, or Jenkins or CloudBees or things like that. Yeah. And it’s interesting, you should bring that up because there is something called the Zowe conformance program and they’re actually coming up with a conformance badge for vendors to offer support. And I don’t know if I just pre-announced something, but I think so. I think it was talked about and shared just the other couple of days ago. But that’s exactly the thing that we’re hearing from customers that Broadcom and others are hearing as well. And people who want to bet the farm on Zowe say, yeah, we understand that the entire world runs the entire Cloud- internet runs on Open Source, but when things go wrong, we need to be able to throw a rock at someone and say, you know what? Help us fix it. Or we need to download from trusted vendors where we know that they’ve taken the time to scan for dependencies and perhaps do penetration testing and things like that. And that’s where you get that dynamic. So that’s good.

Steven Dickens:  For me, it’s the difference between Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Fedora’s an Open Source. There’ll be things that break, the community runs around fast and fixes it. There’s not a lot of testing that goes on in Fedora. It’s the wild west of Open Source and exactly that’s what it’s designed to be. But if you want to go and run your mission-critical banking system on Linux, you’ll be buying a commercial distribution from Red Hat, SUSE, Canonical, one of those, probably three vendors. I’d see the same pattern emerging in the mainframe space. There’ll be the Zowe community version. And then there’ll be the Zowe supported version probably from a Rocket, an IBM, a Broadcom, BMC. Those typical vendors I would imagine, would get into that space and offer a fully supported, fully tested number you can call in the dead of night and get a support engineer to do some work on. So that’s how I’d see the market evolving. And I think that’d be positive for Zowe and for the mainframe space overall.

Joe Winchester: Yeah. Steven, I think we must be getting old when we’re talking about phone numbers. My son reminded me the other day. He’s like dad. I’ve just blown the limit on my- he had a 10 gig phone contract. So I had to upgrade to an unlimited one. Yeah. Because it was watching so much video. And I went and had a look and I said, well, you’ve got unlimited minutes as well. He’s said minutes, what’s that? And we had to look at his last bill. He’d used, I don’t know 10.1 gigs of data. And he’d used like no minutes for an entire month. Yeah.

Steven Dickens: So maybe logging on to a customer portal and logging your severity-

Joe Winchester: I’m just messing with-

Steven Dickens: Via an app on your phone. Let’s maybe try and be a bit, a bit cooler than a one 800 number.

Joe Winchester: I’ve just messed with you, Steven. Okay, so I’m going to switch a little bit to some questions. So you did a huge amount, for obviously for OMP before in your time here, what do you- if you could give advice to yourself, just younger self, and I’m just going to go back in time for a few fossils, give advice to yourself when the OMP started, so go back to 2015 and then I’ll go back a little bit further in time. What advice would you give to yourself and to collaborators? What would you have done differently for the last six years? Obviously, you’re very proud of all that good stuff, but there must be something when you thought, you know what? We got that wrong or we bet we put our chips on the wrong table. What would you-

Steven Dickens: So I think we probably didn’t spot the z/OS opportunity early enough. Okay. So I think we could have got, we could have maybe got something like Zowe out a year earlier if we’d have really collaborated. I think that the three vendors went themselves for a while before it came to the OMP. So maybe we could have fast-tracked things there. And then I think the other thing I always regret is that it’s been a European and American project more than it’s been a truly global project. We’ve tried to engage with the team, the China labs team for IBM. We’ve tried to engage with some of the clients and some of the vendors in other parts of the world there. I’d love to see Hitachi, who takes the hardware and OEM, become part of the Open Mainframe Project. I know there’s a huge, vibrant, Open Source community out there that the Linux Foundation has, in Japan for instance.

And I know we’ve got some huge mainframe customers running Linux in Japan. So I think if I was to be super critical of a project, I think that’s been very successful over the last six years. I think it would be getting earlier into z/OS and I think it would be the international dynamic. And if, if it has been super critical, I think the- maybe the accelerated timeline of Zowe would be just a nice to have. I think the international side is, is certainly crucial to get more customers represented from other parts of the world there are huge deployments of Linux in particular, out in China, getting the community down there and the China labs team connected to the Open Mainframe Project would be the thing that I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of.

Joe Winchester: It’s interesting how you said that. So yeah, I mean, yeah, they’d beat yourself up too much because I do think there was a little bit of change occurring. I was at an Open Mainframe summit, virtual in Japan, that took place early this year. And there was Sudeshna, from COBOL, John was there as well. I had to stay awake until one, between one and three in the morning for me. So I listened to the recording afterward and I thought, Ooh. Anyway, you’ve probably pulled a graveyard shift. I probably had a bit too much coffee that day when the speakers- but that was a first, so that was a one-off I think perhaps I think 140 people I think joined. Then from my experience, I presented Zowe. It’s quite recent, but I had a Turkish user group reach out and be interested. Turkey is half in Europe, half in Asia. It’s that wonderful melting pot of the two cultures, but you’re right. There’s more to be done.

I presumably one of the things that you must be quite proud of, and I’m very proud of working with Linux foundation, Linux foundation is massively focused on diversity, right? When you do conference panels they are very focused on making sure that they do have diversity. They do have reach across all parts of the globe and all parts of the human race in whatever form that takes. So I agree there’s more to be done, but there is. Okay. So going back a little bit further in time. So on the-

Steven Dickens: Only just a little bit.

Joe Winchester:  Just a little bit to your 21st birthday, if you can remember, if you can remember that party, Steven, what would you, what advice, what career advice would you give to yourself then, what advice would you say? I wish I’d known this, and I wish I’d done this differently.

Steven Dickens: So we’re talking about just a couple of years before 2015. Is that what we’re saying? Yeah, no. I mean, I think for me, I mean, I graduated university in 1995, and I think I’ve been really lucky to work for probably two big companies during that time. Time at IBM for 10 years and time prior to that for Hewlett-Packard, as it was back then for 10 years prior to that. So and then straight out of college, was it, what was CA now is Broadcom. I think the variety has been the thing I’ve enjoyed most about my career and working for a company with 30 people now. I think to advocate for yourself, go and be challenged every day in what you do, and try and look for new challenges and things that you are stepping outside your comfort zone. I look at what I’m doing now.

I’ll have to write a research article a day. Now, if anybody knows me, I always liked to write, and I’ve always got an opinion, but writing a research quality note of 12, 1500 words every day is pushing me out of my comfort zone. Absolutely love it. But I think stretch yourself, look for new challenges, go and take that job you’re only half qualified to go take and advocate for yourself. I think we were joking as we were setting up the call, fake it until you make it and stumble through because if you advocate for yourself and you actually go and push yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll find that half of the job that you’re not qualified to do, you’ll very quickly get up to speed on, and you’ll be able to leverage skills and experiences and capabilities from your career before you took the job that’ll get you there a lot faster than you probably would think you would.

So I think just to advocate for yourself and be curious and go and stretch yourself, I think I’ve done that, but the places I’ve been most successful in the things I’ve gone and done where I’ve backed myself, I’m thinking of the job I’ve got now and my first job working for CA, those were massive moonshots. And I think they’re six weeks into this job. So I’ll tell you in that maybe you can have me back on the show in a couple of years to see whether it’s worked out Joe, but I am absolutely loving it so far.

Joe Winchester: But that’s really interesting to hear. So that’s very much the, I know, I think I read a biography of Richard Branson’s autobiography and he had very much the same thing in his career. He said, when somebody asks you to do something that you don’t know how to do, just say yes, and then figure out how, and it’s interesting to hear. Do you, so do you think that sometimes people lose that ability to why do people lose that spot, right? When you were a child, you’re learning a new language or learning a new instrument, you’re learning a new hobby or jump on a skateboard and until you- and then that veneer goes, that kind of youthfulness goes. And I suppose what you’re saying is to keep renewing it, keep drinking from the fountain of youth.

Steven Dickens: There’s a book that I love, Who Moved My Cheese. It’s a book about change. And it fundamentally comes down to which type of mouse you are. If you’ve not read the book, I’m certainly not spoiling anything. There are two mice in a maze, and they’ve got a plethora of cheese that’s delivered to them every day. Life is good. Then one day the cheese isn’t there. And it’s how those two mice react to the cheese moving. And it’s a parable for somebody to change the corporate email service. Are you the person who moans about it or do you just go, well, I can figure this out if I watch a couple of YouTube videos and just throw myself into it? We had the same with when Slack came to IBM. It’s kind of do I hang on to at the same time and be the last user who has it pried from my fingers?

Or do I just go, well, this is happening? I don’t know, Slack looks a bit scary, but I’m just going to throw myself in. And I think trying to learn something new, whether that’s a new language, a new tool. I wasn’t a podcast host before I started podcasting so it was like, okay, I think I can hang a sentence together. I think I can interview guests. Okay. Let’s sign me up to be a podcast host for the Linux Foundation, every three or four weeks with Chris and the team. I think you’ve just got to throw yourself in the back that you’ll figure it out and go from there. Okay.

Joe Winchester: I keep giving up and just even though I- even though you’re not 21, just for listeners that can’t see Steve, and to keep doing that, that is wonderful advice for anything that people are doing. Yeah.

Steven Dickens: You got to do it at all stages of your career. I’m in my late forties now. And I think I’m going to try and keep this mindset for as long as possible. And this was one of the reasons amongst many of why I left IBM, it was, I just want to go try something different. I’ve never worked for a small company. We’ve got 30 people. I’ve only ever worked for companies that have got thousands and thousands and even tens or hundreds of thousands of employees. Let me go push myself outside of my comfort zone and see whether I can go do that.

Joe Winchester: It’s brilliant. Well, if it doesn’t work out, you can always get a job as a motivational speaker. I think I’m just inspired listening to you. And I mean, that’s a

Steven Dickens: Simon Sinek version two

Joe Winchester: I can see you’re laughing. But another question that I just want to finish with, and this is one, obviously that I know you ask everybody on your podcast. So it’s a great way to tail out, look into your crystal ball, where do you see the mainframe in five years? And if I’d like to add a little slight twist on this, have you seen- you’re a Tolkien fan- Lord of the Rings? There’s a wonderful scene. I think it’s perhaps a second movie where Frodo Baggins looks into this I think it’s like a fountain and he sees this terrible future where everything’s on fire and Hobbiton’s on fire. And the dark Lord has presided. And then he’s told by Galadriel, you saw a future that doesn’t have to happen. It’s still in your hand. So what’s the worst future you could see for the Mainframe and the most pleasant, and what’s the road, what’s the path that can lead people towards- anyway, just noodle that idea for a minute

Steven Dickens: That’s a really good way to rephrase it, Joe. I think. So I think the mainstream media or tech media covers the platform with sepia-toned pictures of the mainframe. And we talked about COBOL. All of the coverage around COBOL was as if this COBOL was running on a 30 system 360 that had never been upgraded. So I think if we, as a community, buy into that version of the truth, that version of the lie, probably more accurately, then we’ll define our own future.

So we’ve got to talk about this platform as an Open Source powerhouse. We’ve got to talk about it as a platform where innovation happens. We’ve got to talk about these languages that run on the platform. We’ve got to talk about containerization in Cloud-Native. We’ve got to adopt the language of the wider tech space so that we don’t end up in that negative sepia-toned picture view of the world, where this is a legacy platform. If we talk about it in that way, that’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy. And then if you went to ask me, so that’s probably the worst view of the world and how we avoid it.

Joe Winchester: That’s the Hobbiton on fire with the Dark Lord presiding.

Steven Dickens: And that’s in our destiny to control that as a community. I think the best version of this world is where IBM is taking the platform with things like hyper protect. If you’re a hyper protect customer, you don’t know you’re running on a mainframe, you’re just consuming services provided by IBM cloud. And they happen to be running in an IBM data center somewhere. And you may even not know that you’re running on a mainframe platform, but at the back end, I think that the Cloud experience has got to be the best version of where the platform could be.

So customers are always going to want to have things on-premises, but I think increasingly they’re wanting to have things in the public cloud and if they can get access to z/OS services, VRC a container of z/OS in the IBM cloud or in Sono’s cloud or DXE’s cloud or Kyndryl’s cloud, or whatever cloud provider is providing that service, if they can get a multi-tenant mainframe service where they’re able to scale and grow and shrink and do everything you would do on a cloud platform as a service, that’ll be the best version of this world five years out.

And I think that’s a very pragmatic view of what’s going to happen over the next five years. So I don’t see that as aspirational, I think from things that I’ve seen and conversations I’ve been involved in, I think that’s a realistic roadmap to expect that we’re going to see those things start to evolve over the next two, three, four, five years. And there’s going to be a client somewhere in the world, within the next five years, who’s running on a multi-tenant, scalable public cloud-style z/OS service who genuinely doesn’t know where their workload is, doesn’t care. And isn’t worrying whether the box is in their data center or somewhere, somebody else’s. And I think if we get to that world, then a lot of the baggage that comes with the platform just won’t be there any longer.

Joe Winchester: And it’s very prescient in there. I mean, every morning when I log on and there’s been another ransomware attack or another there are bad actors all over the planet and the platform has a lot to offer in that space. And you’re right, getting some of that infrastructure as a service, and platform, and software as a service in the cloud really does play into that. It might be a space of- the case of being in the right place at the right time.

Steven Dickens: I think there’s a gap in the market for performance, availability, scalability, and security that the mainframe is known for those four characteristics. We were talking about it as an analyst team only this only in this morning, following the poly network hack that happened yesterday in the Defi space. There are those four requirements for enterprise computing, mission-critical computing, systems of record, whatever the buzz words are. Those four characteristics of performance, availability, security, and scalability are always going to be there.

The mainframe is a natural platform for those types of workloads. And what we’re at an inflection point, I think is where the industry is going to make the consumption of the mainframe easier to get hold of, easier to interact with, that some of the pricing stick stickiness and issues will go away and it will truly be a consumable platform that will sit within a public cloud type framework. And that will lead to just further workloads coming into the platform. And they’ll lead to potentially even a raft of new customers starting to gravitate to the platform because it’s easy to onboard. Maybe the skills challenges get easier. It’s just, oh, well I need a mission-critical database. Oh, DB two z/OS has all the characteristics of the thing I need.

You don’t need a DB two CICS Prog to go figure it out. Because that’s all managed by the SRE team in the IBM cloud or the Ensono cloud or the-

Joe Winchester: That’s awesome, yeah. And looking back to everything you said at the start about education, the RMP is in a really good place to provide the education, get the academics, get the students, get the gen Z kids coming out. Okay. Steven, this has been awesome. I’m just looking at, keeping an eye on the time. I’ve got one final question I want to ask you. If they go for here. Imagine I’m your fairy godmother. Yeah, don’t think too hard about that. And I’ve just given you a wand and it’s a one-wish wand and it comes with the usual caveat. You can’t wish for more wishes and all that stuff as in Aladdin’s cave, what would be the one wish you would have for the mainframe community, especially with [inaudible] The one thing that you could say this is really hard, but I’m going to solve it. And it’s gone that- what would be that one wish that you would have-

Steven Dickens: I think it would be for con- so we’ve got a couple of customers as part of the OMP board. And I think going back to your question about what I think we’ve done a good job and not done such a great job. I think if I could have one wish it would be to get five or six more customers onto the board of the Open Mainframe Project because I think we’ve got the academic communities well sorted. People like Cameron and Herb and Harry at Marist, they’re doing an amazing job. The team at VCU. there are some fantastic academic members of the project. I think we’ve got a really good job with vendors.

Joe Winchester: Good one, the customers, every time is a customer listening to this and I hope they will be in, thank you for staying this long. How can they get involved? What’s the step they should take? What’re the plans, the email, the website, what’s- what should be their next step to make your wish come true?

Steven Dickens: So I mean, John Mertic does a fantastic job for us as the program director for the project. He’s the master.

Joe Winchester: So that’s John dot Metric at Open Mainframe Project dot com?

Steven Dickens:    So he’s So that will be the- and we’ll put this in the show notes. Chris will keep us honest at this in the show notes, get involved in the-go to open mainframe project dot org and there are contact details there. You’ll be able to get in touch with John. Reach out to me on Twitter and I can get you connected. Steven dot- Steven dot dickens three on Twitter. I mean, the community’s pretty open and easy to get our homework done.

Joe Winchester:  And if they do that, we can that confidence- and that will be done at the non-disclosure and stuff. So that can be quite the conversations that take place okay.

Steven Dickens: Absolutely. The path for a customer to get involved is really accommodating of what the concerns a customer would have. I mean the members that we’ve got ADP have been founding members, they’re very reluctant to have their name mentioned. And I won’t mention it again for that reason, but they’ve been a really strong supporter of the project in the background, behind the scenes. And so there are roles for customers to take, that type of role. I mean, or they can be as vocal as they want to be, but certainly, we could, the model can accommodate that.

Joe Winchester: Brilliant. So there are no customers listening. We want to make your wish come true. That’s all I have to do, is the email you. Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and everybody else. It’s been wonderful and good luck. Good luck with your next analyst report. Your job sounds like Groundhog day. Groundhog day, coupled with the nightmare where every day where somebody says-

Steven Dickens:    It absolutely is Joe. I need to find something to write about every day. So there’s the pressure is always on, but now Joe, thank you very much for joining me on the show. Great to have the roles flipped around here. You’ve been listening to the I Am A Mainframer Podcast, brought to you by the Linux foundation. If you like what you’ve heard, please click and subscribe. And if you really liked what you’ve heard, give us a five-star rating and tell your friends. We’ll put the details in the show notes of the things that we talked about, but please join us again next time for the I Am A Mainframer podcast, speak to you soon.