The popular narrative that mainframe is archaic, legacy tech doesn’t reflect reality, as its strengths greatly benefit some of our most important modern systems. IBM z16 is not suitable for every workload, but it does have a place in the modern enterprise. IT leaders are learning to optimize their tech stacks and put workloads where they make sense. Businesses using mainframe technology have to make some hard decisions about the platform. For some applications, moving to the cloud or an x86 VM farm is the right choice, but many times, it means further investment in mainframe systems to make a long-standing workload adjust to new business demands.

SHARE Is Helping Bring The Mainframe Community Into The Future

Mainframe users and vendors came together at SHARE Atlanta 2023 to prepare for a much cloudier future. SHARE was created in 1955 and is the oldest IT user group around. This year’s spring SHARE conference is small by re:Invent or KubeCon standards, but the attendees are focused on keeping some of the world’s most critical workloads running reliably. While there were plenty of 40–50-year mainframe veterans in attendance, the crowd was very diverse, with a vast spectrum of ages, genders, races, and nationalities represented.

Sessions at SHARE reflected a surge in interest in modernizing mainframe environments through the use of automation, DevOps practices, API enablement, containers, AIOps, Zero Trust, hybrid cloud integration, and a range of other topics that you would expect at KubeCon, DevOps Summit, or SREcon. Enabling technologies such as Zowe, OpenShift, and Git were mentioned often, and some interesting patterns for cloud object storage usage were demonstrated by vendors like Model9 and Broadcom.

Mainframe Is Not The Walled Garden That It Has Been In The Past

Many presenters shared the need to collaborate with their distributed colleagues and learn from the pipelines and platforms that those environments have created. There was also a focus on breaking down walls built up around mainframe in order to create a pipeline of innovation that stretches from systems of record to systems of engagement. Limitations still remain, both technically and psychologically, to the integration of the mainframe as “just another platform,” and major vendors such as IBM, BMC, Broadcom, Rocket Software, SUSE, and more have positioned themselves to help address both hurdles. Central to the in-platform modernization effort is the Open Mainframe Project, where vendors have a neutral ground for sponsoring internships, building code, and stimulating interest in the platform, with long-standing organizations such as SHARE serving as a dissemination point for that information.