Thought Leadership: A Movement Toward Mass Innovation on the Mainframe

By Cameron Seay

The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has announced the creation of the Open Mainframe Project (OMP). The goal of the OMP is to establish collaboration among industry and academic partners to create areas of focus for advancing Linux on the mainframe to benefit the community and industry.

Launched just six months ago, the OPM already has several major industry and academic members. The industry members include: ADP, BMC, CA Technologies, Ubuntu, Compuware, Data Kinetics, Hitachi, IBM, LC3, RSM Partners, Sine Nomine, SUSE and Vicom Infinity. The academic partners are: Marist College, NC A & T State University, East Carolina University, the University of Washington and the University of Bedfordshire. The OMP has created areas of technical focus as determined by its Technical Steering Committee (TSC) — JIT for OpenJDK, Docker support, Blockchain and Linux monitoring tools  and a new internship program in which students will work with industry professionals to complete real-world projects for Linux on the mainframe.

“Linux continues to be embraced by more mainframe organizations than any other platform because of the flexibility it provides,” says Len Santalucia, chairperson of the Open Mainframe Project Governing Board. “The newest investments in the Open Mainframe Project demonstrate the importance of this work, as does the commitment to specific areas of technical focus and a formal internship program that can speed innovation and bring to bear new ways to take advantage of this powerful technology.”

From an industry perspective, the creation of the OMP will provide exposure to the potential of using open source tools on the mainframe for business purposes. Many companies that currently use the mainframe are not aware of the numerous advantages of using Linux on the platform, including lower total cost of ownership for right-sized workloads. From an academic perspective, the OMP has many advantages. It provides an easily managed, scalable environment for teaching Linux. Networking, cloud computing, analytics and software development can all be taught effectively using Linux on the mainframe. Plus, it gives faculty a reliable environment for instruction without having to be concerned about whether the data center has the capacity for support and scaling.

The OPM provides a neutral home for community meetings, events and collaborative development for Linux on the mainframe and involves key academic institutions in order to increase the future talent pool of mainframe practitioners and technical experts. The OPM also:

  • Identifies ways to leverage new software and tools in the Linux environment that are ideal for taking advantage of the mainframe's speed, security, scalability and availability
  • Seeks to significantly broaden the set of tools and resources that are intended to drive development and collaboration of mainframe Linux
  • Aims to coordinate mainframe improvements to upstream projects and increase the quality of these code submissions and ease upstream collaboration

For more information, please visit the OPM website.

Cameron Seay, PhD, is an assistant professor of Information Technology in the School of Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Seay’s research focus is on enterprise systems, or an enterprise-centric view of computing resources, cloud computing, Big Data analytics and information technology pedagogy. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology and master’s degrees in business, information systems and economics.

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