Czech and Bavarian deer behave like some IT practitioners: their habits are hard to break. Animal researchers have discovered that deer living on either side of the now long ago disappeared Berlin Wall still remain on their respective sides of the border. Adult deer have a life expectancy of about 15 years, and the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago. None of the deer alive today have even seen a functioning Berlin Wall, yet they don’t cross that invisible line.

There are many invisible lines that some IT operators still do not cross. One example is restarting — “reIPLing” in mainframe vernacular — z/OS. There are many IT organizations with mainframes that reIPL z/OS on a regularly scheduled basis. Perhaps nightly, perhaps weekly, perhaps monthly. Why? Basically because their predecessors did — or maybe they did, since they have longer life expectancies than deer — starting some decades ago. For example, there might have been a memory leak IBM or another vendor fixed in 1974, but the operations team added a regular reIPL in 1973 in order to work around that particular problem. That was a great idea 40 years ago, but then nobody canceled that particular operational workaround.

The persistence of such obsolete operational practices could be a big problem. If the deer don’t cross that particular invisible line, their business users might not appreciate being knocked offline “just because.” Then somebody might decide to start shooting the deer, metaphorically speaking.

Please don’t act like a Czech or Bavarian deer. Try crossing a few invisible lines once in a while. Whether you’re a Millennial Mainframer or not, act like one. In this particular example, how about skipping the next IPL? You’ll then verify that your Cold War against memory leaks ended decades ago. Or implement Sysplex — inside a single mainframe works fine — with two production instances of z/OS and associated middleware supporting your most critical applications so that, if you insist on continuing to reIPL one instance, the other will keep providing business service to your users. There are some rather easy solutions to help you cross at least that particular invisible line affordably and with confidence.

It’s more than a bit frustrating when a computing technology (the mainframe) is more than capable of satisfying demanding business requirements, but a few people operating them or implementing them don’t support mainframe capabilities.

Please be a dear, not a deer.

Sometimes it’s a great idea to detach from the virtual world and get solidly educated in the physical world. With real, live instructors and face-to-face conversations with peers. (Peers with beers?) As one excellent example, IBM is sponsoring the System z Technical University in Budapest from May 12 through 16, 2014.

Budapest is in Hungary, in case you’re wondering. Bucharest is in Romania. This May’s zUniversity is in Budapest. If you go to Bucharest you won’t have nearly as much fun from May 12 through 16. Although I’ve heard Bucharest is a lovely place, too. After you visit Budapest you can visit Bucharest if you’d like.