“I’ve been with IBM for 25-years and been with the mainframe. We hear either that the mainframe is dead or that it will be retired in one or two years,” says Mike Fulton, IBM DevOps for Enterprise Systems CTO, and blogger at https://makingdeveloperslivesbetter.wordpress.com/. But IBM and Fulton have built bridges from the largely new and improved mainframe to the new IT professional, making access easier and more inviting.
IBM has made it easier for Universities teaching about the mainframe to build and use very high quality education programs in order to educate students about the mainframe and about application development for the mainframe.
“One of the neat things University folks have done is to create free MOOCs so that students and others globally can learn the mainframe and log on to a real mainframe from the Internet to develop their skills,” says Fulton.
Reaching the Millennials
In Fulton’s session about reaching Millennials with the mainframe, he starts with the realization that they address the mainframe differently than he would. Where everything used to be a green screen on a dumb terminal, now it is web based.
“I see people facing challenges in how to adapt to the workforce of people coming in who have this different approach to work and life. The key thing is to focus on the people expertise and on training the millennials on the business side and the technology side related to apps and not so much on the kinds of tools used to access the mainframe,” says Fulton.
People whose work and lifestyles are mobile with remote working can work from the Internet and access the same applications on the mainframe to accomplish the same business tasks. DevOps has led to improvements allowing people to move on to these new tools including web tools for systems of record and web tools for systems of engagement.
IBM is reaching out to the millennials. “We partner with Universities for this,” says Fulton. Customers with mainframes and massive apps should look beyond next quarter and into the future to how to train the new batch of people taking over on how to use these web tools to accomplish mainframe tasks.
Securing the data is one of the big challenges for Millennials and anyone working with information systems today. People can engage Millennials with how secure the mainframe is. “Fundamentally if you are building any app of interest today, security has to be at the top of the list and it is important if you are a millennial or anyone else because you can easily destroy your business with one security slip up,” says Fulton.
IBM bakes security into the mainframe so it is natively secure without additional security configurations. “Additional configurations give you the opportunity to make mistakes,” says Fulton. But an app designed to work on Java using sockets on the z/OS will automatically be locked down and secure because it will use TLS, which IBM uses by default, explains Fulton. The customer doesn’t have to code all this manually and IBM knows that it is fundamental regardless of what technology you use that you must be aware of security vulnerabilities in order to address them, says Fulton.
The mainframe is an obvious choice for security because IBM has been baking security into it for 50-years now, says Fulton. “It’s easier to guarantee security on the mainframe where it is native than it is on systems where people are still adding security in after the fact,” exclaims Fulton.
The mainframe and its security are based on a proprietary, closed-system approach. You would have to be one of the few people who know even one of the internal subsystems, then you would have to be able to get into the mainframe and use that knowledge to get from one system to another, which requires another type of proprietary expertise.
The System z memory architecture keeps any one application from gaining any access to the data or processes of any other application. IBM’s user authentication and authorization software also keeps individual applications from accessing other areas of memory. The mainframe further offers more encryption than other platforms. When it comes to security, the mainframe has a strong feature set that makes it attractive.