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Open Mainframe Project – Inaugural EU Meeting

By | February 9, 2016

Inaugural EU MeetingTo describe my enthusiasm of the Mainframe (also known as IBM z Systems) would take far too many words, but suffice to say I have been a massive fan ever since I left University (quite a while ago now) and had to quickly learn how to be a Mainframe Systems Programmer. Not an easy task when I’d never been taught anything about the system, and even more strange coming from a world where Windows hadn’t discovered virtualisation and even worse, there were no windows – just a green screen!

When I heard the news from LinuxCon in 2015 that the Linux Foundation was going to run and host the Open Mainframe Project, I truly felt that this was a turning point in the Mainframe’s fortunes. Linux has been running on the Mainframe for around 16 years, and yet has barely had the recognition or value it deserves. The Linux Foundation is the perfect agnostic organisation to promote the benefits of running Linux based applications on the Mainframe, and the Open Mainframe Project is a truly exciting prospect to get new people playing with the Linux environment and writing business relevant applications.

I was therefore really excited to attend the first ever EU meeting of the Open Mainframe Project, hosted at the University of Bedfordshire, one of the Project’s academic sponsors. The meeting was well attended by students, seasoned Mainframe professionals and members from the open source community, including Canonical – the organisation behind Ubuntu.

John Mertic, Senior Program Manager at the Linux Foundation led discussions on how the Open Mainframe Project was set up to bring together students, industry experts, developers and system administrators in a collaborative way to create open source based solutions on Linux on System z. As the Linux Foundation would be hosting the environment with support from their 100+ staff,  it would be a truly vendor independent and neutral playing field for new and exciting applications. A board made up of a governing body, an IBM Fellow, lead developers and a committee will decide and manage the projects – which at present consist of focus areas on Docker, Blockchain, OpenJDK and monitoring tools. No IBM software here – this is all open source!

The aim of the Open Mainframe Project is simple –

  1. To promote the benefits of running Linux on the Mainframe (see this great video from MongoDB),
  2. To develop a broad ecosystem of software
  3. To engage and excite students and young people, bringing fresh ideas from academic institutions and
  4. To provide a neutral, collaborative approach to bringing together anyone wishing to learn and do more with one of the most impressive and longest living commercial Enterprise servers the world has known!

I am personally looking forward to working with the Open Mainframe Project and the Linux Foundation to make this a great success. I particularly want to see industry teaming up with academia to develop new and disruptive technologies – just imagine what a Bank could do with limited resource and budget, for example, when they can work with and leverage students through the Linux Foundation! Innovative business projects that may seem like an impossible pipe dream to deliver in a large organisation could be created through this initiative, leading to value for both the organisation and the open source community. All delivered on Linux on System z – an unbeatable combination!