Is the mainframe still relevant in a modern economy?

BMC recently joined the Open Mainframe Project, which was founded as a focal point for the deployment and use of Linux and open-source in mainframe computing environments. After hearing regular customers’ interest in an ecosystem that supports development between them and vendors, and also encourages new and innovative solutions, BMC decided the Open Mainframe Project best represented the needs of those customers.

In speaking with April Hickel, Vice President, Intelligent Z Strategy at BMC Software, she was asked about the role mainframes are playing in the modern economy. To that, she started off by saying that “the mainframe has been around for a long time, so has the iPhone. The customers and consumers they [iPhone] are trying to serve is about hybrid infrastructure.”

April continued by saying: “In that ecosystem, every major business has a cloud, everyone has a data center, everyone is trying to serve a mobile consumer, and mainframes are just a part of that ecosystem. When you think about accessing customer records, or executing a trade or getting money out of an ATM, a lot of those high transaction-centric applications still depend on data — that’s where mainframes play their role.”

April also addressed the issue from the developer’s perspective. She said, “I think the way that BMC is approaching it is the things that developers want: Autonomy, speed, agility, integration, automation…those are sort of universal characteristics of application development.”

As to BMC’s involvement with the Open Mainframe Project, the company is currently looking at two vectors. The first lies in supporting that community and engaging across several different ISVs (independent software vendors), as well as different customers within the Open Mainframe community. The second vector is contributing their first set of capabilities to Zowe (an open-source software framework that provides solutions for developing on the mainframe platform). Talking about the BMC’s contributions to Zowe, April said, “…We’re really excited about that because the contribution that we have made is going to allow people who are modernizing their software installation on the mainframe to build workflows more quickly.”

There are challenges the Open Mainframe Project faces. One such problem, according to April, is that “…the mainframe is no longer sort of behind the velvet ropes or, you know, set aside. Customers really want to know how they can drive even higher levels of resilience on the mainframe. So we think that the AIOps approach to operations offers a lot of possibilities.”

On the long-term vision BMC has for the Open Mainframe Project, April quipped, “So as a software vendor for the mainframe, we’re looking at all of our applications and determining how we deliver to our customers a transcendent user experience with new interfaces, with exposing more APIs, with making them easier to integrate, easier to install and configure.”

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