In honor of our 1,000th hit, behold System Z’s answer to Ruby on Rails: COBOL on Cogs!

In all seriousness, the modern mainframe has come a long way towards embracing modern web technologies.  Due to the integration of UNIX into z/OS and the popularity of Linux on the z/VM hypervisor, TCP/IP has become a foundational technology of the zEcosystem.  This is demonstrated by companies such as Marriott making the zEnterpise the heart of their IT infrastructure by adopting a service oriented architecture tied to XML, web technologies, and custom APIs.  Although unimaginable during the era of the S/370 and the Systems Networking Architecture (SNA), companies are adopting APIs as a means to simplify and accelerate the integration of their mainframe and zEnterprise systems into web and mobile apps.  This has the potential to promote the use of the zEnterprise as an Infrastructure/Platform/Software as a Service solution accessible to developers through a standard API.

Even more interesting, it is possible that a private cloud on zEnterprise could follow the steps of Eucalyptus (a public cloud solution) and run an API that matched the syntax of an API stack such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or IBM’s SmartCloud.  Such a move would allow the instant portability of ubiquitous cloud-based front ends to a private mainframe clouds, potentially following in the footsteps of industry standard technologies (such as TCP/IP, UNIX, Linux, Java) to further open up and promote the mainframe as the centralized “system of systems” of a complex heterogeneous IT environment.  In the web development world, developers have benefited for quite some time from Google and Amazon’s simple yet powerful APIs.  I can’t help but wonder how similar tools could affect the deployment and utilization of the zEnterprise environment in the future.

I challenge you, dear readers, to consider how one could build and deploy an mainframe API that would provide the strengths of flexibility, inter-connectivity, and ease of use without compromising traditional strengths in security and efficiency.  Have you worked with APIs in the past?  Do you think that there is a role for such tools on the mainframe?  What sort of impact would the use of such tools have on the mainframe?  Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

Here are some interesting resources related to this idea:
Info on the IBM HTTP Server
Toys and Tools for z/OS UNIX System Services
Guide for Porting POSIX complaint Apps to z/OS UNIX System Services
PHP for z/OS Guide
IBM HTTP Server Cookbook
Porting Apache to z/OS
Coding AJAX Apps on z/OS
System Z APIs
tcACCESS

Happy COBOLing!

Posted in IBM.

Check out Roger Kay’s Forbes article “Kids See A Future In Mainframes.”  Much like our discussion of Marist College, Roger writes about Dave Dischiave’s efforts at Syracuse University to train up new Millennial Mainframers through the interdisciplinary Global Enterprise Technology program.  Dischiave says that GET enrollment “numbers are on the rise” indicating that “whatever we’re doing seems to resonate.”  The dramatic expansion of z/OS course offerings throughout the world seems to mirror his assessment.  It is a well known fact that companies are concerned about mainframe skill shortages as their graying workforce retires.  According to a recent independent CompuWare survey, 71% of CIOs are concerned about skill shortages in their mainframe shops.  While some have predicted that this skills shortage will lead to workloads shifting off the mainframe, this Millennial Mainframer believes that this skill shortage will be solved by close cooperation between universities, corporate sponsors, and the IBM Academic Initiative.

Hats off to Dave Dischiave and Syracuse University’s GET program!

It’s definitely worth noting the active involvement of Syracuse University in the 2011 Master the Mainframe competition.  They placed 3rd in the number of students to complete the challenging Part II.
Vincent Cavallaro, Syracuse University 
Greg Davidson, Syracuse University 
Benjamin Fink, Syracuse University 
Ross Indyke, Syracuse University 
Arun Prasath Jayachandiran, Syracuse University 
Haneesh Kotha, Syracuse University 
Hemandu Malhotra, Syracuse University 
Wendy Ng, Syracuse University 
Tori Wood , Syracuse University

Do you have any thoughts about this skill shortage or these university efforts to train Millennial Mainframers?  If so, we would love to hear you in the comments section.
Happy Mainframing!

By the very nature of being young professionals in a specialized and mature technical community, most millennial mainframers face the constant challenge of skill acquisition and credentialing. While we benefit from the wealth of experience of older mainframers, it often seems that we suffer from a lack of O’Reilly-style study materials or training programs. Even many of the community colleges throughout the country offer courses in Cisco networking or Java programming, but good luck finding coursework on z/OS or COBOL or Mainframe Assembler.

In light of this training shortage, it’s fantastic that IBM and Marist College have partnered to expand the Institute for Data Center Professionals (IDCP) into the realm of mainframe education. For millennial mainframers in the workforce, Marist offers $2700 non-credit certificate programs composed of a sequence of three courses. Considering that each course is identical to Marist’s traditional three-credit hour offering, the cost of this training is approximately equal to the tuition at a local community college. In my humble opinion, this gives the Marist IDCP certificate programs one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) in mainframe education.  For millennial mainframers in need of additional college credit, Marist offers their mainframe courses at the rate of $575 per credit hour.  In exchange for this premium over the non-credit option, the for-credit option potentially allows you to transfer credits earned from Marist’s world-class mainframe courses back to your current degree program.

Here are several examples of non-credit certificate programs available:

NEW!! DB2 Application Programming Certificate (Special Introductory Pricing of $2000)

  • Introduction to z/OS and Major Subsystems 
  • DB2 Fundamentals 
  • DB2 Application Programming 

Assembler Language Application Programming Certificate

  • Introduction to z/OS and Major Subsystems 
  • Basic Assembler Language 
  • Advanced Assembler Language 

z/OS Associate Certificate

  • Introduction to z/OS and Major Subsystems 
  • z/OS Networking 
  • z/OS Security 

Registration for the Spring semester is currently underway. The deadline for enrollment is February 6, 2012, and classes begin on February 13th. Please visit: http://idcp.marist.edu/learnzos for more information, and contact Marist College at learnzos@marist.edu or 845-575-3000 x2601 if you have any questions.

Posted in Uncategorized.