There is a lot of interest in updating mainframe technology/interfaces across traditional enterprises. As development environments and toolsets have evolved outside the mainframe, there is a struggle to keep up—partially because backward compatibility requirements make wild changes difficult and partly because the very architecture of mainframes is different.
There have been several fragmented efforts over the last few years—some of them quite good—to update how a mainframe is accessed from external source and the ways that developers can code for the mainframe. After all, the number of developers proficient in mainframe toolsets continues to decline while the number of workloads does not, so something has to change.
The Open Mainframe Project’s Zowe attempts to address these issues in ways that are both more widely applicable and more technologically advanced. It takes advantage of Open Source REST systems to front-end hardcore mainframe functionality, so developers who are accustomed to application server development can call things such as Spring Boot-based interfaces and use languages including Node.Js to access their mainframe systems.
This week, OMP announced that Zowe 1.0.0 is production-ready. That means serious experimentation can be started at your organization to see if it addresses some or all of your mainframe modernization needs.
There will likely always be some (at least operational) differences in mainframe systems usage because the software infrastructure is designed a certain way, but increasing modern tool usage makes learning those different parts easier across the board. By implementing a vendor-independent architecture that has guidelines for users and vendors to add functionality from anywhere, Zowe is a powerful and expandable tool for getting the job done.
I sound a bit like a fanboy, but for most verticals, this is an issue that will continue to be a pressure point. It’s been more than a decade since companies started bringing back retirees to work on mainframe projects because new developers did not have the skills or interest to complete those projects. As more and more skilled CICS/RPG/PLI/etc. developers and mainframe operations specialists retire, this pressure will increase until it is resolved or unbearable. So I am a fanboy of any company/solution that is addressing this space instead of flocking off to the coolest new DevOps tool du jour. I’ve not yet used Zowe, so can’t directly recommend it, but reading over their documentation, I believe it’s a good idea to use tools we’re familiar with. So I’m rooting for it.
If you test it out, drop a comment and let the rest of us know what you think.
And keep rocking it. Whether in VS-2019 or VT-70, you are making the company engines hum.