Thought Leadership: Q&A with zNextGen Project Manager Warren Harper

By Share'd Intelligence Editor

In this special, zNextGen-themed issue of SHARE’d Intelligence, we had a chance to talk to zNextGen Project Manager, Warren Harper, pick his brain on how he views the project and the mainframe ecosystem. Harper provides his insights on the mainframe from his perspective as a zNextGen’er and shares his thoughts on where the future of the mainframe is headed.

SHARE’d Intelligence: What do the mainframe platform and ecosystem mean to you?

Harper: The platform means a lot to me on a personal level – it allows me to reliably do business with my bank, credit cards, insurance companies and more. I’ve also found that the people within the mainframe ecosystem are extremely helpful to one another, as I think we all recognize the symbiotic nature of this business.

SI: What role do you see for yourself in the future of the mainframe?

Harper: I hope that as the users and applications for the mainframe expand, evolve and grow over time that I can help keep the mainframe relevant as the rock on the back end.

SI: How can SHARE successfully support the mainframe ecosystem and new generations of mainframers in the future?

Harper: Technology has done a lot of wonderful things for communication and education, but face-to-face interaction is still the best way for authentic and effective learning and collaboration. SHARE can serve the new generation of mainframe professionals well by emphasizing this fact and bringing us together in greater numbers.

SI: What do you perceive to be the most significant hurdle for the mainframe in the future?

Harper: I think the most significant hurdle will be finding people to take up the mantle of retiring mainframers. No matter the cost of moving off the platform, it will happen if companies simply can't find people to run and manage them. College grads want to work for the "sexy" companies now – Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Amazon – so IBM will have to make a concerted effort to put themselves out there if they want to build a talented workforce.

SI: Why zNextGen?

Harper: For me, what makes zNextGen so great to be a part of is the amazing diversity of people you meet. Being a mainframe "newbie" myself, I'm always happy to listen and learn from the perspectives and experiences of those with 40 years of expertise, or four months. Put simply, this organization is exceptionally good at connecting you with people and information that will educate you about what you don't know.

Warren Harper has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Arizona and is currently a product developer for BMC Software, where he started immediately after his graduation. He has volunteered for SHARE in some fashion, informally and formally, for nearly three years. Currently, he is the project manager for zNextGen.

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