In this DevOps Chat we sit down with a frequent guest on DevOps Chat, Rosalind Radcliffe, distinguished engineer and mainframe expert from IBM. Rosalind talks to us about the latest generation of Big Iron from IBM, the z14 systems. Also, we discuss some of the new API and functionality that allows you to do just about anything with your mainframe that you do with your other computing platforms.
Rosalind is always an interesting interview with lots of great information.
Note: There are references to a video chat throughout the conversation. We tried to record this chat as a video, but unfortunately, the technology just didn’t work out well for us. But, as usual, the streaming audio of our conversation is below, followed by the transcript of our conversation.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone. This is Alan Shimel of DevOps.com, and you’re listening to perhaps the first video chat or video DevOps Chat from DevOps.com. And I’m happy to have as my first video chat guest none other than Rosalind Radcliffe of IBM. Rosalind, welcome.
Rosalind Radcliffe: Happy to be here, as always.
Shimel: Well, you’re not going to be able to sit and make faces while you’re talking because we can see you. But thanks for joining us. Let’s jump right into things. First of all for our audience who may not know Rosalind, Rosalind is a distinguished engineer with IBM and works within the IBM Enterprise Systems division, mainframes, e-systems, author, engineer, well-known speaker and just a great resource for anyone who is interested in DevOps, mainframe, systems of engagement, systems of records kind of stuff, and a frequent guest here of ours on DevOps.com.
So, Rosalind, the last time I saw you was over at Gene Kim’s DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco. And I thought it was a great show this year. Had a chance to do a bunch of interviews. I did a panel on DevSecOps. But more than that, I really enjoyed speaking to a lot of the people in attendance there, a lot of the attendees. Any key takeaways from you on it?
Radcliffe: Well, I think it was another really good conference, but it was one year next. So there was a lot of people who really have done the DevOps transformation or are a good long way on the DevOps transformation. And so there were a lot more stories about the value that they’re getting and how they’ve transformed, and more about the organizational transformation that happens after you start a DevOps transformation. So I thought that was very good.
We also had more mainframe customers talking about their transformations, and it was really good to hear the stories about mainframe is really just part of the DevOps pipeline, and more and more customers are starting to see that.
Shimel: I think so. And Rosalind, if you don’t mind, I actually wrote an article coming home from Gene’s event called “The DevOps Cha-Cha.” And it’s about this sort of undercurrent. I didn’t necessarily see it in the presentations, but I got it in speaking to people there. And that is this sort of whispered thing that hey, this DevOps thing isn’t that easy. Right? We thought it was going to be easy.
And you know, my DevOps transformation is not going as planned, and it’s not going as fast as we wanted. And it’s not—there’s a lot of work involved here. And I don’t know what gave people the impression that it’s a hockey stick. You know, it was straight up. Things seldom are. I think DevOps can be lumpy, or DevOps transformations can be lumpy. And it’s a little bit of three steps forward, two steps back, cha cha cha, and so forth. Your opinion?
Radcliffe: Well, I would absolutely agree. I don’t think people understand the cultural challenge to this transformation. Because it really is all about culture. And it’s not just bringing in tools, and a lot of people think, “I’m going to bring this toolchain in and it’ll all be fine.”
And maybe some of the teams that works for. But there are a lot of teams that that’s really just not going to work for. And there’s just no way that we can just have this continue in the environment. We really have to make sure we are understanding that this is culture, and that the culture is really, has to change. And it’s across the entire organization.
I think the other thing people didn’t realize is that it is a … what’s the best way to put it? It’s not just culture and you’re done, or it’s not just do it and you’re done. It really is a continuous improvement process. And we like to talk about the kicks team because they’ve been doing this for 15 years or something, and they know they’re not done.
Radcliffe: So it’s not something that ends. You learn your lessons. You get better. And you learn a new lesson, and maybe you didn’t get better. And so you learn the lessons. And it really is this continual improvement. And so it’s not easy. It’s not a piece of cake. But it delivers real value if you move down this pipeline.
Shimel: Yep. I mean, takeaways. Dev ops is never done, right? You’re never done with DevOps. And it’s only a failure if you stop trying, right? Anything else is just feedback loops. [Laughter] Everything else is feedback loops. So I think those are great takeaways from that.
So I went from Gene’s to another event to another event. And we’re rapidly, you know, Rosalind, approaching event season. And, of course, IBM’s big event this year is a little different than years past. It’s called IBM Think, right?
Shimel: It’s in March in Vegas. Can you –
Radcliffe: Yeah. It’s going to be an interesting event. We’re bringing everything together in one. So we used to have in our connect, and Watson’s event, and internet of things. You take your choice of names. Now it’s all one. So we’re going to have one big IBM event for all of our technology, all of our parts of the product. And they’re really trying to bring it in a focused way to make sure it’s a set of customer stories on what they’re doing and how they’re doing things.
Shimel: Do you know the exact dates, perhaps, off your head? Or if not we’ll –
Radcliffe: Yeah. See, it’s March 19th. It’s March 19th. The first day is an inner-circle day. And the next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the main days for the conference. And so it’s a shorter week this time, not making people come in on a weekend and giving you a chance to get home, which I think is a very good thing. But it’ll be a fully packed set of days.
Shimel: Fantastic. Hopefully we’ll see you out there. I’m not sure about DevOps.com’s plans yet around it, but we will be making plans, for sure. So Rosalind, you spoke a little bit about Gene Kim’s event. We spoke a little bit about the upcoming IBM Think event. Let’s focus in now on Z systems, enterprise systems. I know you guys are, you released a new generation. What was it, around September or August?
Radcliffe: It announced in July, July 16th or 17th, and became available in September. And yes, the Z14 with the latest announce.
Shimel: Yep. And it’s brought a whole bunch of stuff to the forefront, probably some of the biggest might be around security and encryption from my point—humble point of view—anyway. But you’re excited about some new stuff coming up with the Z systems we were talking. Why don’t you share it with our audience?
Radcliffe: Yeah. I’m really happy. We’ve been doing a lot of work to make the dev ops pipeline work for z/OS software. And a lot of customers are turning to open source. And so they want to use Git. And so I got Rocket to port Git to z/OS, so that’s the first step. And that’s great. That’s been available this year. But we have to have a build system. And so we have made available something called dependency-based build, and it’s in beta, and it will be GA by Think. The idea is you can use Groovy Scripts to write your build definitions for z/OS.
So think about that. It’s not, you know, JCL. It’s not different. I can use Git just like any other language. I can use Groovy just like any other language. I could write my build scripts. And it’s not different. It can make our COBAL and PL/1 in assembler look just like all those other modern, fun languages.
And really they—okay, assembler might be a little hard. But, okay, other than that, COBOL is just English and PL/1 is a pretty good language. So why not? The fact that you have to do things so differently, we want to get rid of all that. And so this new capability, it’s in beta. Anybody’s well—it’s an open beta. Think about this. IBM open beta? Yep. There it is.
Shimel: IBM –
Radcliffe: Go play with –
Shimel: That would be neat. [Laughter] Where can people go play with it? Did you have a URL or section?
Radcliffe: We have a URL. I’ll get it to you so you can post it. It’s not a friendly URL.
Shimel: You know, I can’t help but smile, Rosalind, and think about some of my friends and family who aren’t in the tech industry listening to this, or watching this, and hearing that we’re going to be playing with some Groovy scripts, what’s going through their head. But that is great news. And it’s part of this bigger movement.
You touched on it a little bit. We started at Gene’s event, and it does show. And that is initially with DevOps we’ve been through the binary IT mode, the multi mode, multi speed, binary speed, all this nonsense where let’s treat the mainframe folks as special, and all of that.
But I’m glad to see that—and Rosalind, I think I ran into you at CA World, perhaps, right, where IBM was a major sponsor. And that seems to be the message coming out of the enterprise world now, the mainframe world, which is that’s nonsense, that we’re not going to stand for being labeled special or anything like that. We move as fast as the next guy does, or as fast as the other systems do. We use the same languages in a lot of instances. And we’re even updating the languages that we do use to make them more relevant in today’s world.
So to me that’s a huge message, right? That we need to continue hitting home, though. Because I still hear people talking about multispeed and all of that stuff.
Radcliffe: Yeah. But bimodal is something that needs to go away.
Shimel: Uh –
Radcliffe: It just needs to go away. We’re done with it.
Radcliffe: The idea that things are going to go at different speeds is true, but it’s not based on platforms. If I build an API, I really hope I do a good job of that API. And it doesn’t matter if it’s running on a system of record or a system of engagement, it’s running in Java, or it’s running in Cobalt. If I write good code, I’m not going to be changing it 1,000 times a day. So the point is if you’re building APIs, you’re going to build them. But you need to be able to change them as fast as possible.
So it doesn’t matter the platform. I should be able to deliver that code today. I need to make a change, let me deliver it. And I really—I guess I want Z to be considered special for its qualities of service, i.e. its reliability, its scalability. Not because it’s different in the way you do work for it. So if it’s just another node in your pipeline, it’s just another node. It just happens to have a different set of qualities of service. And if you build your node, or your Java, whatever, and you end up needing the qualities of service of Z, run it on Z. Why not?
Radcliffe: And let’s get the differences because you think a system of record has to be slow, or the differences because you think Z has to be slow. I mean, it’s funny to me. We call the mainframe an old system, but really with the Z14 and the LinuxONE announcement, it’s the most modern platform that exists out there. It’s the most modern chip. So how is it old?
Shimel: Yeah. Yeah. I hear ya. A hundred percent agree. Rosalind, you know, we’re almost at the end of our time on this experiment and I do hope the video comes out. But if not, the audio will. And if you’re listening to this without video out there, it’s because the video didn’t work out so good. But at least we’ve got the conversation imparting the references to the video.
Rosalind, we hope to see you soon. Maybe between now and Think we can do something a little more in-depth, a webinar or something about what we’ll see from Enterprise Systems at Think and what else we have coming down the pike as we move closer to Think. And until then, though, have a merry Christmas, happy new year, happy holidays, and thank you for always being available to us here at DevOps.com.
Radcliffe: Well, thank you. Thank you for your time. And you enjoy the holidays, as well as everyone who is listening if they hear this before the holidays. Merry Christmas.
Shimel: Yes, yes, yes. All right. Rosalind Radcliffe, IBM Enterprise Systems, distinguished engineer, and our guest on our very first video DevOps Chat. I guess they’re not DevOps Chats. All right, Rosalind. Thank you. Have a great day, everyone.