It's Back to School for Mainframe Developers, Back to the Future for the Open Mainframe Project

By Arti Loftus, Special Correspondent  |  September 28, 2022

Members of the Open Mainframe Project, an initiative of the Linux Foundation (News - Alert), got a big surprise earlier this month when project leaders announced that Broadcom has contributed a z15 Mainframe system dedicated to training next-generation talent and the development of new open software technologies in ways that will further strengthen the integration of mainframe and cloud.

Those of us old enough to remember when mainframes were the main computing platform for large implementations – before we found ourselves holding as much compute power in the palms of our hands – may have a sense of nostalgia. The truth is, it’s not all about historical perspective; mainframes are some of the best friends of the cloud today.

So, do mainframes still play a role in today’s IT infrastructure designs?

According to an IBM study published earlier this year, a stunning 71% of IT executives surveyed from major corporations across seven industries say critical mainframe-based applications “not only have a place in their IT platforms today but are central to their business strategy.”

Even more telling, perhaps, is that the study found the percentage of organizations leveraging mainframe assets in a hybrid cloud environment is expected to increase by more than two-fold. Four of five executives say their organizations need to transform rapidly to keep up with the competition, which includes modernizing mainframe-based apps and adopting a more open approach to cloud migration.

Mainframes are back and here to stay, even as quantum computing is expected to explode in the years to come, supporting hybrid cloud approaches that include and integrate mainframe computing for increased business acceleration, developer productivity, infrastructure efficiency, risk and compliance management, and long-term flexibility, also according to IBM (News - Alert).

Open Mainframe developers are thrilled that the z15 will be available for use by all Open Mainframe Projects and the open-source community at large beginning in 2023.

Broadcom’s (News - Alert) donation provides a critical, new resource to foster greater collaboration and the development of new tool sets across the mainframe community, the Open Mainframe Project’s announcement said.

“This major donation by Broadcom enables Open Mainframe Project to continue evolving its mission as the primary clearinghouse for community involvement and scale it across the ecosystem of vendors, academic partners, and the next generation of mainframe talent,” the announcement continued, and “as a result, Open Mainframe Project is now positioned to deliver a new level of value to the ecosystem.”

“We support and foster the mainframe ecosystem in many ways — often it’s our time and talent,” said Greg Lotko, senior vice president and general manager, Mainframe Software Division, Broadcom. “We saw a special opportunity to lift the open mainframe ecosystem to a new level. The donation of the z15 mainframe is an important investment that will accelerate projects, skills, growth, and open innovation for the mainframe community.”

With more than 20 current projects and Working Groups, several technical communities have a need to be able to test open source code on hardware. The new z15 not only offers them an opportunity to test their contributions but also equips them to build use cases and better plan a road map. Additionally, this mainframe infrastructure will be available for broad open source projects as a development, test, and continuous delivery environment, enabling developers within these communities to be able to support both z/OS and Linux on s390x. The z15 will be hosted at Marist College.

“This valuable donation is a significant investment to our community and serves as an accelerant for our communities like Zowe, COBOL Check, GenevaERS, Zorow, and the COBOL Programming Course,” said John Mertic, Director of Program Management at the Linux Foundation. “Having open access to the mainframe will take these projects’ initiatives to the next level. As our members, we’re thankful that Broadcom and Marist College have helped provide this opportunity and cement the Open Mainframe Project as the cornerstone that will help close the technology gap and inspire innovation.”

The availability of these tools and resources also serves as the catalyst for training a new pool of mainframe talent. The Mainframe Open Education and COBOL Working Group are now positioned to offer a real-world environment to better prepare learners as they transition to full-time careers in the mainframe industry.

This significant donation was announced at the 3rd annual Open Mainframe Summit, hosted for the first time in-person in Philadelphia, PA, and streaming online for global attendees.

The Open Mainframe Project is intended to serve as a focal point for the deployment and use of Linux and Open Source (News - Alert) in a mainframe computing environment. With a vision of Open Source on the Mainframe as the standard for enterprise-class systems and applications, the project’s mission is to “build community and adoption of Open Source on the mainframe by eliminating barriers to Open Source adoption on the mainframe, demonstrating the value of the mainframe on technical and business levels, and strengthening collaboration points and resources for the community to thrive.”


Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Erik Linask