I just got back from the SHARE conference in San Jose, and if you have never been, I would suggest you should try to go to this event. It's a great way to keep up with what is going on in the mainframe world. There are technical sessions on every subject you could imagine--zAAPs and zIIPs: Understanding the Basics, What's New in Enterprise COBOL Version 4, The Linux IPL Procedure, Mainframe Operating System Boot Camp, and Mainframe to Mobile: Push and Pull Data to Wireless Devices, to name a few of the ones I dropped in on. You get to see the latest solutions, applications, and mainframe-related products on the show floor. There are the large sessions, meals, and social events.
Mostly, you just get to hang out with lots of people from the mainframe world. If you're at all like me, you can be pretty heads down just geting stuff done, doing your regular job. When I get out to things like SHARE, the thing I really enjoy is finding out how much is really going on out there, how many creative, interesting things are happening on the mainframe, and how much energy there is to keep this a vital, strong, innovative part of the IT industry.
For example, I sat down over lunch at a nice Italian place called Il Fornaio in the historic St. Claire Hotel with the editors of IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition. They told me all about the work they're doing with authors from universities who are so into some of the latest System z technologies they can't wait to write new articles about them. I can't tell you about them -- that would be giving away their secrets. But check out the magazine and you will see what I mean.
Of course, the event did have a downside--my hotel room looked right out over the local trolley system, which gets going on the dot at 5:05 every morning. Oh well, at least I got off to an early start every day.
Anyway, I will write more about some of the things I came across at SHARE. If you were there, respond to this and let me know what you found there, or just say hi.
In the meantime, go have a look at the SHARE web site and look at the conference proceedings. You can get a pretty good sense of what you can learn there. And check out the next event, which is going to be held March 1-6 right here in my home town, Austin, Texas. And, don't worry, we don't even have a trolley system so if you need to, you can sleep in.
And speaking of SHARE: Jeff Gould, director of research for Interop Systems, attended the event and came away realizing a couple of important things:
"Cobol is not dead. And neither is the mainframe"
If the State of California budget team had been at the event, they might have seen some ways to save money
According to Jeff, the California Controller is keeping money in the state budget to pay for Cobol development, claiming that the language is dead, there is no way to modernize mainframe applications, and that the only thing to do is to keep throwing money at the problem.
Dead wrong, says Jeff. Here's part of what he wrote: "In the past few years a whole new class of mainframe applications has emerged which bring non-mainframe environments such as Java and Linux to Big Iron. WebSphere on z, Linux on z – these are much more than mere checkbox options in some ... marketing scheme. A substantial chunk of the 10,000 or so System z mainframes in the world are actually running these environments. And they are doing it for big-time production apps too, not just development."
Just came across a really useful site for those of you working with information management software for System z. It's the new Information Management Software for System z e-media site, and I think you'll find its collection of materials both interesting and useful. Check out the webcasts, teleconferences, brochures, whitepapers, and demos you'll find there. The URL is
This is especially useful for those of you considering investing in the mainframe. It makes the point that the mainframe had virtualization first and that it continues to innovate with virtualization. Kind of an obvious point if you know the mainframe well, but maybe you know about virtualization on another platform and want to get the details on mainframe virtualization and why it could become the x86 virtualization of tomorrow.
STUDENTS: You really don't want to miss this chance to win a scholarship to add to your mainframe skills. The new IBM Destination z Enterprise Computing scholarship is sponsored by a group of IBM Destination z Business Partner members and supporters listed to the left. If you're in engineering, computer science, and business information management students you should consider applying.
Check out the latest new Destination z members -- OpenTech, B.O.S., and DataDirect are the latest IBM Business Partners to join the community. And here's something you shouldn't miss: Several members of the IBM Destination z community are featured on a new video that you can watch on IBM-TV. Check out their passion for the mainframe and for the Destination z community. You can find a link to it on the Destination z home page.
And always let me know what you think. Add your comment to my blog and I'll get back to you as soon as I can
Bob Thomas, the publisher of z/Journal and Mainframe Executive magazines has just started the Mainframe Zone, a new blog about the mainframe, and it looks like something you should bookmark and check out regularly. Not only can you get great news about the mainframe there, but you also just might win a really cool t-shirt if you participate in Bob's contents.
Rather than stealing his thunder, I'll repeat what Bob just wrote to me:
"I have decided to do a mainframe-oriented blog titled the MainframeZone – please take a look at www.mainframezone.com. It's not that I was craving more work. Rather I am starting the MainframeZone to try to draw more attention to the IBM mainframe and as a rallying point for the mainframe community.
"In the MainframeZone I will primarily be an aggregator of important or cool mainframe-centric information that I think mainframe folks will find informative and interesting. For example, I will highlight other mainframe-centric blogs as well as new announcements, applications, users, etc. In addition, I am including two regular features; a Mainframe Trivia Contest and the Mainframe Hall of Fame. Winners and contributors will receive a "Mainframes Rule" T-shirt (you can see it on the blog now.) I will also be including stuff I find clever or amusing such as Wit & Wisdom quotes and my favorite New Yorker cartoons."
There's already some pretty cool stuff there, and looks like Bob is posting new material at least a couple times a week, so go have a look. I'm sure you'll like it.
You might already know that SHARE is holding its next conference March 1-6 in Austin, Texas. What you might not have known is that IBM's very own System z Marketing and Strategy VP Karl Freund will be delivering the keynote, called "Building a Dynamic Infrastructure - Trends and Directions for System z". Karl is usually pretty dynamic himself, so don't miss that.
Also -- speaking of dynamic -- look for IBM Destination z while you are in the exhibitor area. I will be there personally, and you could win a massage on-site at SHARE if you participate in the contest we'll be running.
Also -- System z will soon be celebrating its 45th birthday, and you have a chance to share in the festivities. Check this out from Natalie Boike, the editor of IBM Systems Journal, Mainframe Edition:
"The March magazine will be widely available at the SHARE Conference in Austin March 1and it will highlight IBM's 45-Years of Innovation on the Mainframe as April marks the anniversary of the System/360. In 1964, IBM announced the product "as a new generation of electronic computing equipment" in 165 U.S. cities!
"The March IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe edition is publishing a special timeline pullout along with special Anniversary focused editorial. It's a good time to market within the pages of the magazine within this editorial environment. Beyond March, however, IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe edition is looking to review how the mainframe has changed the industry by collecting user, client and vendor memories through April 13, for potential publication in the magazine and on our Web site.
"Were you one of the 100,000 businessmen or women who attended the announcement meeting? Did you play a role in helping the System/360 evolve over the years? Amusing or earnest, momentous or trivial, we’d like to hear how the IBM mainframe has impacted your life.
"Share your story by e-mailing me (that is, Managing Editor Natalie Boike), at email@example.com."
See you at SHARE, and maybe in the pages of IBM Systems Magazine. Ciao for now.
As I told you in February, SHARE was here in Austin (where I happen to live) and IBM Destination z ran a promotion I called the zZingo card. Attendees who visited with 13 of our IBM Destination z members where treated to a relaxing massage during exhibit hours.
Needless to say that those who took advantage of the offer felt the effort to visit all the exhibitors was well worth the effort.
Watch this space, i will let you know of any similar offerings we may conjure up in the coming months.
On Wednesday the 4th of March IBM and SHARE provided an opportunity for high school and college students to come to SHARE to hear about the industries "Best Kept Secret", the IBM System z. It is AMAZING how few High School and College Students know how often their daily lives may be influenced by the "Mainframe".
Anyway, after a one hour presentation (Starting with a welcome for Karl Freund, VP of IBM System z Marketing and Strategy), the students were led down to the SHARE Technology Exchange (Exhibit Hall) to see an operating mainframe and to talk with IBM experts, vendor reps and customers who were willing to talk to the students (most of them).
Initial feedback from students and instructors was that the experience was well received, appreciated, and several students are now very interested and want to pursue Enterprise Computing topics in their studies.
All in all, a great event. With over 100 participants, we continue to spread the word that we are a lean, green, computing platform (Machine) :-)[Read More]
You know, I'm sitting here and it occurred to me that I didn't mention the career day at the Lone Star College - Tomball, in Tomball, Texas (near Houston).
IBM arranged to bring their IBM System z10 BC demo machine to the campus, hooked it up. Tomball arranged to bring in about 70 students to see the z10, and for faculty members and College Students, IBM conducted a Linux Workshop where using the z10 mainframe the students installed Linux on the machine using z/VM (z/Virtual Machine).
The event was conducted to kick-off Tomball's efforts to begin teaching mainframe topics as part of their CS workforce program and potentially as part of their CS degree program. Tomball is a recent member of the IBM Academic Initiative, System z program and I look forward to watching as they build their program.[Read More]
Just a heads up that IBM in conjunction with WAVV will be conducting a Mainframe Career Exploration Day at the upcoming WAVV (the World Alliance of VSE, VM, and Linux User Group) conference in Orlando Florida on May 18th. If you are a student or faculty member in the Orlando area and you would like to participate, just let me know.
This is a great opportunity to learn about the mainframe and visit with several of our IBM Destination z members who will be attending and/or exhibiting at this event.
Are you heading out to IBM's Premier conference around SOA, WebSphere and the mainframe? If you are not, still time to consider it. If you are, please make sure you visit the zZone. What is the zZone you ask?
Well, it is a collection of our IBM Destination z members who can be found in a special area of the Solution Center (Exhibit Hall) at the conference. Our key Destination z Sponsors will be under the "Get into the zZone" banner. In addition, numerous vendors who provide applications, tools, and services to mainframe customers will also be identified by a zZone placard and will be included on a promotion that will allow visitors to earn a complimentary chair massage at the conference.
If your are attending IMPACT 2009, make sure you visit the zZone!
Finally, I will be there too. If you spot me, please stop and say hello!
For information on the conference, visit http://www.ibm.com/software/websphere/events/impact2009/.
More on the zZone at the IMPACT Conference. Check out this link to see who the zZone Premium sponsors are. And if you are coming to the conference in Las Vegas, grab a zZingo card at the zZone and earn yourself a chair massage while you visit these sponsors and up to 20 other vendors in the zZone zZingo promotion who will tell you about their products and services.
At our July Destination z teleconference, I had the opportunity to talk
with Bob Buchanan, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at PathPoint
Software. Bob is a veteran of the computer software and hardware
industry with over thirty years of domestic and international
Marc: Hi Bob, PathPoint recently joined our Destination z
community. Can you tell me a little bit about your company and the
solutions you provide?
Bob: PathPoint Software is dedicated to supporting the
application support needs of mainframe customers worldwide. We offer a
dynamic mainframe application discovery tool that provides a
breakthrough, execution-based, approach for understanding how mainframe
applications “really work”. Our produce, PathPoint, traces and captures
the sequential application-processing path followed by specified, user
entered, business transactions as they execute. Captured information
provides unparalleled insight into execution-based application facts.
PathPoint’s dynamic approach eliminates the need to analyze static
source code and “play computer” as you try to find the right code. No
more guess work. PathPoint helps you find the right code.
PathPoint is also included in the IBM Global Services AMS Toolkit.
Marc: What are you finding are the greatest challenges your
customers are facing and how does PathPoint Software help them?
Bob: Our customers are often facing a variety of challenges. They
need to drive efficiencies into their mainframe application maintenance
efforts, including analysis, testing and performance. PathPoint
provides a means for customers to reduce analysis time by 50% or more
and testing time by 50% or more and identify the cause of application
performance problems. Our value proposition revolves around improving
personal productivity, which drives down the time and significantly
reduces the cost associated with many mainframe application maintenance
PathPoint Software also helps customers struggling to understand how
legacy online or batch mainframe applications "really" work – of major
importance to customers who are need to make changes to existing
applications or to identify the source of application problems. Users
of PathPoint simply enter a business transaction of interest, or job a
step number, and the product traces and captures the actual
application-processing path followed by that executing business
transaction – all without any change to source code. Information
captured in the actual sequence of execution includes: input screen,
programs called, call statements issued, tables/files accessed, how
tables/files are accessed (CRUD) and output screen. Optionally, Cobol
source code can be parsed during post processing to capture the
conditional logic related to executing business transaction.
Marc: PathPoint sounds like it really helps customers quickly
identify the “right code” in a mainframe application and relate this
code to change requests and other problems. Please tell me a little bit
more about PathPoint’s role in addressing application-level performance
Bob: PathPoint captures application level performance timings for
specified user-entered business transactions – very unique and valuable
information. For example, we capture the elapsed time per call
statement, the interim time between call statements, and the frequency
of call statements. Using this information, customers can quickly
identify the cause of bottlenecks in their applications and how to
improve application performance.
Marc: What economic benefit would a user of PathPoint derive?
Bob: First of all, the mainframe application budget is a
substantial portion of the overall IT budget in today’s corporations,
as you know. And, application maintenance consumes a large percentage
of the application budget itself. We are confident that PathPoint users
can reduce their mainframe application maintenance budget by up to 20%.
Why? Because PathPoint enables users to reduce analysis time by 50% or
more, reduce system and regression testing time by 50% or more, and
reduce overall project time.
Marc: How can folks find out first-hand about your product?
Bob: We encourage all mainframe sites to try PathPoint. The product
can be installed in as little as 2 hours and does not require any
change to source code. Visit our website for more details.
Marc: One last question, why is being part of Destination z a
valuable community association for PathPoint?
Bob: PathPoint is delighted to be a part of the Destination z
community. As an Advanced IBM Business Partner, a very active
participant in the IBM Academic Initiative program, we are eager to
engage in discussions with other IBM Business Partners serving the
System z community. We feel that the Destination z community enables
mainframe customers to understand that innovation continues in the
world of mainframe computing – PathPoint is just one example of such
Marc: Thanks Bob. And I welcome readers to listen to the replay of
our July 29th Destination z call featuring PathPoint Software. Visit
the Destination z website
Primeur, a multi-national company, is a leader in Governed Managed File Transfer and End-to-End Security solutions. Primeur also offers total integration with WMQ File Transfer Edition, further extending its specialisation in adding value to WebSphere with SOA enabled products and services solutions.
Allan Somerville Brown:
Allan leads the Primeur business in the North America. Before joining Primeur, Allan worked for several years at IBM. Throughout his career within the company, he covered various management roles and worked on major customer accounts during his time as the world-wide sales leader for the IBM WebSphere MQ software family of messaging and connectivity products. Allan was responsible for driving the MQ business to meet its revenue targets.
Q1. Primeur has been providing the System z Community with solutions and services for nearly 20 years. Why do customers turn to Primeur year after year?
A1. Primeur’s first customers, over 20 years ago, were mainframe users. We and they have continued to believe in the mainframe and have invested accordingly, making sure that our software remains optimised for the mainframe, now z/OS and z/Linux. We work closely with our customers to ensure they continue to achieve an excellent Return on Investment both technologically and functionally – for instance our recent File Services Governance solution for providing platform independent audit, compliance and governance for corporate wide file transfers regardless of protocol.
Q2. We continue to see Primeur expanding globally, at a time when the economy is extremely challenging. What’s your secret?
A2. Yes, despite a difficult economic climate, our company continues to grow. We believe that there is a tremendous business opportunity in the market in which we operate not only for helping our customers reduce operational expenses, but also in bringing batch processes into a SOA environment. When we think of SOA, we generally tend to think of on-line transaction processing. However, most of the enterprise mainframe environments use batch systems so our customers are asking "when I transform to SOA, what about the batch applications and systems?" Primeur’s experience with mainframes, batch file processing and WebSphere puts us in an ideal position to help answer that question.
This makes it an opportune moment also for Primeur to invest in the future. Earlier this year, we announced the expansion of Primeur in the United Kingdom, and we opened a new subsidiary in the Asia Pacific region (Sydney, Australia) Since May, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the Director of Primeur’s first North American office, located in Virginia.
Q3. Why is being part of Destination z a valuable community association for Primeur?
A3. Being part of destination z is a very valuable community as it affords Primeur access to the wide experience through collaboration with customers and IBM. Perhaps the best way to understand fully the value of System z and value of destination z is to watch the video, recorded at Impact 2009 by Peter Sedgwick our director of the new UK company. This can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pHV04EsiaM
Q4. Why is System z important for Primeur’s customers?
A4. Batch/Legacy applications are best run on system z as it is optimized for handling these applications and the way that these applications communicate is through files.
Very large numbers of files are processed and sent/received every day. The increasing focus on securing sensitive data means that systems z’s outstanding security capabilities make system z the ideal platform for processing files. Customers can take full advantage of system z to process and secure the key data used to run their business, safe in the knowledge that Primeur’s software will securely deliver the files to the desired destination reliably and in a timely manner. Primeur’s Governance solution determines when the batch file is ready to be sent and tracks it to its ultimate destination, thus ensuring audit and compliance. One can’t run a business without secure and reliable processing of data – the combination of system z and Primeur’s software ensures that customers can rely on the efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness of their core data processing.
Thank you to Allan for sharing his thoughts. Join me again when I continuing blogging on my journey to Destination z!
Students taking mainframe courses at an IBM Destination z member school can now apply for the IBM Destination z Scholarship. To see the sponsoring organizations and to access the application, visit our website at IBM Destination z Scholarship Information.
OK, time for me to wake up and start bloggin' It has been months since my last blog which happens to be on the announcement of the scholarship for 2009. Well, I'm back, the winners have been named, and you can find out who the talented winners are by visiting the new Scholarship Program link. Please note our generous sponsors who made the scholarships possible.
Congratulations to our winners!
I'm going to try to bring more interesting and frequent materials to you here, so keep tuned.
Offering the mainframe computing industry’s ONLY up-to-date, comprehensive, e-learning curriculum, Interskill’s low-cost, versatile, mainframe training has formed the backbone of mainframe education initiatives for over 1,000 corporations and government bodies worldwide.
Hi Darren! Interskill is known for its leadership in serving the mainframe community. Why do customers rely on Interskill solutions?
Thanks for asking Marc. You may be surprised to know that Interskill’s mainframe e-learning is THE ONLY up-to-date, broad spectrum, e-learning curriculum available to the mainframe industry. Over the last 15 years we have worked with more than 1,000 corporations and government bodies worldwide to provide low-cost, high quality, incredibly versatile mainframe training solutions to their personnel. It really has become a mainframe education standard.
We currently have over 150 web delivered courses for mainframe operators and programmers totaling over 800 hours of course content. These courses span IBM’s z Operating System and mainframe programming languages, as well as Tivoli, CA and BMC products. It’s a very comprehensive training solution!
In this tough economy, mainframe managers are finding it almost impossible to provide their personnel with all the training they need. Despite dwindling budgets, Managers must not feel trapped into just cutting training! By prudently using the classroom method only when necessary and “bulking up” annual training programs with some of the versatile, new technology training methods now available, the cost savings can be astounding!
Bottom line: significantly more training for substantially less money!
I understand IBM and Interskill have joined to deliver some very exciting ways for folks to learn new skills or refresh their skills with the very latest information. Tell me more.
IBM clients worldwide can now get Interskill Learning’s mainframe e-learning through IBM’s Learning Portal as two different product types:
1)The Enterprise e-Learning Solution which is an ultra low-cost, versatile, comprehensive mainframe training resource that forms the backbone of an organization’s mainframe education program. It’s annual, enterprise-wide, mainframe education at just dollars per course!
And 2)Mini e-Learning Bundles aimed at individual users. There is a z/OS Mainframe Programming e-Learning Bundle (EZ120) and a z/OS Computer Operations e-Learning Bundle (EZ110) offering 3 months access to 50 courses.
Interskill recently joined Destination z and has decided to be a zZone sponsor at Impact 2010 this May in Las Vegas. Why is this an important show for Interskill and what exciting things will Interskill be sharing with us at Impact?
Impact 2010 is really going to be an exciting show for us.Impact 2010 is the premier event for aligning technology and business strategy. It’s designed to demystify information technology for the line-of-business executive. And it brings together over 5,000top IT and businessprofessionals from around the world to share best practices and new tricks of the trade. We know business leaders and customers around the world are looking for smarter ways of delivering education across their organizations quickly and cost effectively.As a zZone sponsor, we’re looking forward to demonstrating how Interskill offerings can help deliver education and training in new and cost effective ways to empower their workforce.
Interskill really changes the way companies can deal with any challenges in meeting skills requirements and training needs at a time when education and travel costs are really tight. What are some of the messages you'll be sharing to help customers thrive in today's economy?
In an ideal world, Mainframe Managers would want their people to train often, and train on all facets of their complex mainframe job roles. The two limiting factors are time and money: budgets not allowing for all the training needed and busy mainframe personnel not having the time to train on all the areas they need.
We can cut money out of the equation. For the cost of one day of classroom on only one mainframe topic, Managers can give their mainframers 12 months access to over 150 mainframe topics!So, rather than 3 classroom days per year, give personnel 2 classroom days and 12 months open access to 150 e-learning courses. Imagine the versatility and breadth of knowledge that mainframe team could have!
We can also cut time out of the equation. Utilizing e-Learning offers mainframe personnel the ability to train anywhere, anytime: courses are broken up into one hour “bite size” pieces that can be done in breaks, during lulls at work, in the evenings, at home … anytime. Over the course of a year, students can complete hundreds of hours of training on a multitude of topics!
The mainframe industry’s staple training has always been classroom type training. We need to be a little smarter and use e-learning for the heart of the training program and use classroom where it is needed rather than as a default. We can deliver many, many more times the training at the same cost or less.
What’s the best way for customers to find out more about Interskill solutions – or even take a test drive with some of your offerings?
Customers can go to the IBM.com website and find a page dedicated to System z e-Learning. There is a lot of information there plus a number of JCL, JES2, COBOL, CICS and PL/I course modules for customers to try.
Alternately customers can call their IBM Education representative or me for a chat. I think they’ll be amazed with just how simple this is and how much sense it makes.
Is there any one thought that you would like to leave IBM customers with?
I would simply ask that IBM customers never leave their mainframe personnel without training. Even in the short term, it hurts the personnel and it weakens the company on so many levels.
Try and investigate ways that you can train smarter: maximizing your budget dollar, your team’s time and your training ROI.
Great talking with you, Darren. If your going to be at IMPACT 2010 this year, don't forget to check out Interskill at the Impact 2010 zZone