The Open Mainframe Project Expands Educational Opportunities for Linux on z Systems Users

Open Mainframe Project
Photography by Hiroshi Watanabe/Getty

Since its inception in 2000, Linux* on z Systems* has combined the high reliability of the mainframe with the flexibility and security of Linux. The release of the LinuxONE* systems in August 2015 signaled that IBM and the likes of distributors SUSE, Ubuntu and Red Hat were committed to further innovating this game-changing technology.

In the spirit of this collaboration, the Open Mainframe Project—launched in tandem with LinuxONE—is building a community to support the use of Linux on z Systems.

Realizing open-source computing relies on strong collaborations and community involvement, Steven Dickens, global offering manager, z Systems cloud, IBM, conferred with the Linux Foundation shortly before the LinuxONE launch. IBM wanted to unite the groups that circulate around the platform in a single, open-source community, and the Linux Foundation team suggested forming the collaborative project under its stewardship.

The Mission

The Open Mainframe Project is committed to investing resources to grow the community, continuing to extend the technology, and providing a collaboration hub for sharing models, definitions and best practices. Its mission includes three main goals:

  1. To create an open-source, technical community that industry and community members may easily participate in toward the creation of assets and materials that will benefit the Linux ecosystem and open-source software on the mainframe
  2. To include participation of leading members of the open-source community—such as end users, solution providers, application developers and systems administrators—to ensure the Open Mainframe Project addresses community needs
  3. To host the infrastructure for the open-source development projects; establish a neutral place for community meetings, events and collaborative discussions; and provide structure around the business and technical governance of the project

Dickens, a governing board member and chair of the community’s marketing committee, says another goal is to promote the use of mainframe as the platform of choice for Linux and open-source technology. As noted on the website, the Open Mainframe Project is intended to serve as a focal point for deployment and use of Linux in a mainframe computing environment by increasing collaboration across the mainframe community and using the shared toolsets and resources developed within the Open Mainframe Project.

Varied Community

More than 25 organizations/institutions are currently members, including Marist College, CA Technologies, SHARE, ADP and Albany State University. Several membership tiers exist:

  • Platinum
  • Platinum end user
  • Silver
  • Academic institution
  • Associate

No-fee membership options are available for nonprofits, academic institutions and individuals. “Benefits exist for academic institutions,” Dickens says. “We’re looking to build course material and other collateral for the universities to use, with the heavy training focus from the Linux Foundation.”

Platinum and silver community members are voting members on the governing board, which includes the marketing and technical steering committees. The Open Mainframe Project is recruiting software vendors and open-source software companies. “We are always keen to encourage clients to join and bring their technology focus into the community,” Dickens notes.

Any member is welcome to propose a project to the technical steering committee. “The way the open-source community works,” Dickens explains, “is a real meritocracy—a project can percolate up from one of our members through the community and be presented to the technical steering committee. It’s an open and collaborative format for technical projects to find their way forward.”

Caroline Vitse is a freelance writer based in Rochester, Minnesota.

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