Written by Milan Shetty, CEO of Rocket Software
Open source software (OSS) has become the de facto Standard for millions of IT organizations, it underpins countless aspects of our daily personal and professional lives, from apps on our phones and the elements of our cars to innovative artificial intelligence apps that help us work faster and smarter. And while it may be associated with the latest and greatest digital transformation, it may surprise many to learn that open source is also paving the way for well-established technologies, such as the mainframe, to experience a renaissance.
Could a mainframe be modern?
For many, today’s connotation of the mainframe is old technology and outdated systems. In fact, mainframe computers are essential to many industries and operations 30 billion daily business transactions. Furthermore, the mainframe continues to be praised for its high security, reliable sources, and high standards – high availability and low downtime.
The unfair reputation of the mainframe as outdated technology may come from the fact that IT professionals who started their careers during a time when the IBM mainframe emerged and led the charge of expanding the use of technology in organizations, have reached points where they have the option to stop working full time (if any) Or expect significant compensation commensurate with their experience. The next generation of IT professionals – the generation of X’ers now entering the peak of their careers – took coursework and then focused their careers on emerging and equally attractive technologies such as cloud, JAVA, APIs and the like.
These technologies are what young developers today know – and the future of the industry – know and want to work on. They understand the value of a mainframe, but they also share fair questions when it comes to using it: Why don’t mainframes have a desktop like other PCs? Can we find a way to the main computer that is lightweight and doesn’t have any end user installation? Most importantly: can the mainframe be so open and modern that it becomes the standard platform for enterprise application development?
The answer to this, of course, is yes. With the help of open source, we can open up the mainframe to a new community of developers who will fuel the next wave of innovation, helping organizations solve real problems on the world’s most powerful platform.
From ripping and replacement to updating in place
With talent being able to take advantage of the mainframe more easily thanks to open source, companies can reap the benefits. And in a post-pandemic world, where companies need to react faster, more digitally, and in more innovative ways than ever before, there is limited appetite for cost, risk, and time to bring back the platform.
Thanks to open source technologies, companies can move toward in-place updates and without the high-risk and unknown rewards of bringing back the platform. In fact, modernizing today means leaving existing assets in place and taking full advantage of years – if not decades – of investment by connecting them to the latest digital development environment.
One example driving demand for applied modernization is data, and disadvantaged businesses have to move it from existing systems. Now, through the double whammy of the mainframe and open source, access to this data can be distributed widely but the data can still remain in a tried and proven logging system, staying where it was originally created.
Open today, chance tomorrow
With so many technology vendors committed to this cause, new developments and improvements come every day, making it easier to use and deploy a mainframe.
For more than a decade, Rocket Software has been at the heart of this, dedicated to bringing the benefits of open source to underserved platforms. We’ve ported more than 30 open source tools and languages to z/OS — including Git, Python, and more — and played a leading role in the new Zowe framework, helping pave the way for the next 50 years of mainframe innovation. Learn more about how Rocket Software ensures the future of the mainframe is open to everyone here .