Guest: Hiren Shah (LinkedIn)
Organization: Open Mainframe Project (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

Zorow stands for z/OS Open Repository of Workflows, which provides a community and GitHub repository for z/OS system programmers and product vendors to contribute and collaborate with z/OSMF workflows. The project is driven by a very diverse and vibrant community, including IBM, z customers and other vendors.

According to Hiren Shah, Chair of the Open Mainframe Project (OMP)’s Zorow project, “Our first and most important goal is a cross-team collaboration, enabling IBM, IBM customers and vendors to build and share common workflows for z/OS system management, configurations, and provisioning.”

The second major challenge for the Zorow community is to bridge the talent gap as most Mainframe experts are quite senior and the ecosystem needs to attract a new generation of developers so that the next generation of developers and users continue to reap the benefits of this critical technology.

The project is in incubation phase but Shah says that the team is “looking for a higher level of collaborations and once we start seeing that, we will open up the project and take it to the next phase from incubation to graduating it.”

What other challenges is the project trying to address? What kind of community is around the project? What roadmap does it have?…To get answers to all these questions, please watch the show above.

Topics we covered include:

  • Introduction to the Zorow project
  • What was the need for this project?
  • In addition to attracting new talent towards Open Mainframe, what other challenges is the project trying to address?
  • The project is in incubation phase. What does incubation mean for a project like this as it’s already been used in production?
  • How does the Zorow project work with other open source projects?
  • What kind of governance is there around the project?
  • What kind of community is there around the Zorow project?
  • What kind of roadmap do you have for this project?


Hiren Shah: Nice To see you Swapnil.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Let’s start with the basics. Tell me what is the Zorow project all about? And also if you can tell me, what is the story behind the name Zorow.

Hiren Shah: Yeah, the story behind the name Zorow is, Zorow stands for z Open Repository of Workflow. So we abbreviated that and came up with the fancy name that maps to our Spanish character. So that’s the story behind the Zorow. It stands for the z/OS open repository of workflow. Zorow project provides a community and GitHub repository for z/OS system programmers and product vendors to contribute and collaborate with z/OSMF workflows. The project is led by IBM, z customers and vendors along with IBM. Participation in this project is open. It is not bound to any corporate affiliation, though the participants has to follow the projects code of conduct. Z/OSMF workflowing Zorow repository are made available under Apache 2.0 License. IBM, Kyndryl and Rabobank have made initial contributions of z/OSMF workflow to this repository

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you talk about what was the need? That will also help us explain what is the goal of this project, because you’re talking about an open repository of workflows. So let’s just talk about that. What are you trying to achieve here?

Hiren Shah: Yeah, our first and most important goal is a cross-team collaboration, enabling IBM, IBM customers and vendors to build and share common workflows for z/OS system management, configurations, and provisioning. Our next goal is close the system programming skills gap. We have a issuer here that our system programmers experience system programmers are retiring and new system programmers are challenged to come on board fast. So we are providing z/OSMF work for technology that enables senior system programmers to transfer their z/OS system programming skills and thereby attract and retain new system programmer without overwhelming them with underlying process and platform complexity. And finally centralized depository of workflow provide access to vibrant ecosystems of z/OSMF workflows.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One problem that you mentioned is already that the seniority of the existing developers, and then you want to help hand over the baton to the next generation. That is one people challenge. If we look at this project, what are the other challenges that you have in your sight that you want to deal with?

Hiren Shah: Other challenges that we have is the z/OS system management, the configuration and provisioning activities are really complex in nature. It requires high degree of system programming skills, right? And as these skills are disappearing, we need to make sure we provide a mechanism so that you can consolidate the tasks that are involved with specific z/OS management process in one centralized place, which is the z/OSMF workflows. So these z/OSMF workflows help our system programmer to reduce the complexity of their current organization’s system management processes, and also enable them now to transfer those system management, configurations and provisioning processes to the new early tenure staff because they are consolidated, consolidating their knowledge and processing into one single place. And our customer and vendors needs to collaborate on building such z/OSMF workflows for system management, configurations, and provisioning activities. And Zorow is providing that community and a platform for such cross collaborations.

Swapnil Bhartiya: The project is in incubation phase. Can you explain what incubation means for this project, because as you said, it is created by the community, which I assume also means that a lot of folks may already be using it in kind of production. So talk about what incubation means and what is the next step.

Hiren Shah: So Open Mainframe Project, when first they take the projects into the OMP space under Linux foundation, they first want to make sure that the technology that we are providing or the goal for this project is achieving its mission, right? For our case, for z/OSMF workflows, we are currently in incubation phase, we are waiting on uptake, basically, meaning more people collaborating on SMF workflows. So right now we have IBM Kyndryl and Rabobank, and few vendors are contributing these workflows to their workflows to this community, but we are looking for higher level of collaborations and once we start seeing that we will open up the project and take it to the next phase from incubation to graduating it.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Now, when we look at this community, there are other Open Mainframe Project or there actually projects outside of Open Mainframe as well that are being used. So can you talk about how does this specific Zorow project work with other Open Mainframe Projects?

Hiren Shah: So Zorow being part of Open Mainframe Project is enabling us to align with other Open Mainframe Projects that are promoting open source code for z/OS and we are leveraging other capabilities that is, that are provided by Open Mainframe Project, which are like, for example, mail groups, so we leverage that to communicate regarding Zorow project and build z/OSMF workflow expertise in our community. And similar to other mainframe projects, member of Zorow community can also participate in biweekly Zorow technical advisory council meetings and share their experiences and get guidance from a other participants regarding z/OSMF workflows. So being part of Open Mainframe Project and aligning with other Open Mainframe Project, giving us the broader audience that we will look far to join our community and contribute z/OSMF workflows through our community.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you talk about, of course the project in incubation phase, but a Linux foundation, they have very good structure for governance. So if I ask you, what kind of governance model are you planning for the Zorow project, or what kind of governance is there around the project?

Hiren Shah: As we are in currently incubation phase, but still we are accepting z/OSMF workflows into our GitHub repository. And in order to control, we have good governance process in place whereby you don’t need to be associated with any corporate affiliation, but if you have a z/OSMF workflow, you can submit the workflows to our GitHub repository. There are team members which consist of IBM and non IBM, who would look at the pool request that you’re submitted with your z/OSMF workflow into the GitHub. And after reviewing the pool request and verifying the purpose of the z/OSMF workflow matches with what the documentation they have provided along with the workflow, we accept that pool request and make it part of our Zorow GitHub repository.

Swapnil Bhartiya: What kind Of community is there around Zorow project [inaudible 00:08:13] is it is subsection, sub community of the larger Open Mainframe Project, but talk about, what kind of folks are building it open

Hiren Shah: Mainframe project has both Linux aspect as well as z/OS open source aspect. So for Zorow, as it stands for z/OS open depository of workflows, the main contributions that are coming in into this community is the z/OSMF workflows. So the system programmers, z/OS system programmers who wanted to simplify the day to day system management activity.

They would build the z/OSMF workflow and contribute that workflow to our community, thereby other vendors, other clients, other z/OS customers will be able to take advantage of this pre-build z/OSMF workflow and add on top of it, that own institutional knowledge if they need to, that own organization, characteristics that needs to be part of this z/OSMF workflow. And they will customize it, because one customer’s z/OSMF workflow may not be directly usable in other customer’s environment, but having some standard process defined in this z/OSMF workflow and having capability in z/OSMF workflow for customization, we will be able to achieve that goal that we can create the common set of workflows for such specific system management activity. And then various customers can leverage that common workflows.

Swapnil Bhartiya: What kind of roadmap do you have for this project? Of course, it is an open source project everybody can go and check, but if I ask, what are the things that you plan to work on next? As it moves out you plan to move it out of incubation and graduation or whatever phase you’re looking at. So talk about the roadmap.

Hiren Shah: Our Current challenge is to attract additional participants in our community. So from roadmap perspective, we are basically educating our z/OS customers that we have this Zorow community available in Open Mainframe Project space. You can go there and pick up the ex workflows that are already contributed in Zorow community for any specific system management activity you want to perform. For example, if you want to provision a new Db2 subsystem, we have a very sophisticated workflow that is contributed by IBM in a Zorow repository.

You can look at that and build your provision, your Db2 subsystem using this workflow. And if you have your own workflows that you’re building, please go and contribute that workflow. So we are spreading that message currently, that’s our first step and as we start seeing uptake that more customers are contributing that workflow they’re participating in our male groups, that would be our next phase. We wanted to have that engagement with additional customers and vendors to join our male groups and participate in our biweekly discussions and share their workflows into the zero community. So those are the two main things, spreading the information in about Zorow and then eventually having more customer and vendors participate in our community.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hiren, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about Zorow project. Of course, the roadmap, the challenges that you are trying to tackle. And you know there are so much to discuss about the project, so I’d love to have you back on the show. Thank you.

Hiren Shah: Thank you very much for having me here. Appreciate that.


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