Data Integration Buyer's Guide

How Open-Source Software Puts a Modern Spin on the Mainframe

Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise tech. In this feature, Rocket Software‘s Phil Buckellew offers commentary on how open-source software puta a modern spin on the mainframe.

The mainframe has long been a bedrock of security and reliability for businesses, with a decades-long track record of success to back it up. While the mainframe remains critical to countless business operations, the growing wave of modernization efforts has IT professionals looking outward for opportunities to innovate and bridge the gap between modern applications and longstanding mainframe infrastructure. And as mainframe developers continue to innovate, open-source software (OSS) has emerged to help close that gap.

While OSS is not always commonplace in some mainframe infrastructure, the technology brings a lot to the table when it comes to improving operations. OSS opens up opportunities to accelerate application development while also reducing costs along the way. It is also becoming increasingly common among early-stage professionals who are just starting in their careers, but doing so with open-source. While the mainframe has a long history, it’s not always the most well-known technology for new IT professionals.

As digital transformation projects become more common, tools like OSS will be critical to support the needs of developers. Here are a few ways OSS is uniquely suited for keeping the mainframe and modern applications on the same page.   

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Open-Source Software Puts a Modern Spin on the Mainframe

Open-Source Software is a Must for the Mainframe 

Leveraging OSS is becoming increasingly commonplace among businesses, as it means developers can avoid needing to start from square one when building applications, saving resources and reducing costs along the way. As those applications mature and progress through development, OSS enables more individuals to contribute and make changes that account for the needs of systems throughout an organization, including the mainframe.  

Innovation is the name of the game for a majority of businesses, but it’s only possible if the mainframe and the latest applications are able to work together effectively. Mainframe application development is increasingly becoming an important part of the DevOps pipeline for businesses. With more organizations rethinking their infrastructure approach and opting for cloud or hybrid cloud environments, mainframe application developers need the right tools to map out processes effectively. OSS, by its very nature, brings greater visibility into the development process.  

As modernization efforts accelerate, OSS can help strengthen the DevOps processes that developers rely on. The software makes collaboration among developers easier and streamlines the process for delivery of applications on the mainframe. In all, the result is applications going to market much faster than would otherwise be possible. 

In addition to helping build applications, OSS is often used to create modern agile DevOps pipelines. As organizations move from a waterfall approach for their application development, to a more modern agile approach, it is often necessary to create connections to other tools and processes. By enabling the use of OSS on the mainframe itself, many organizations have found that they can include the mainframe in their agile processes, rather than have it be a standalone silo.  This typically speeds up changes so that updates can be pushed more quickly as well as creating more standardization across an IT organization.  

Supporting Young IT Developer Talent 

The benefits of OSS software extend beyond purely technological aspects. When young, early-stage professionals enter the job market, the tools they learn on and are most familiar with often fall into the realm of OSS. Implementing OSS into mainframe application development gives these young professionals and recent graduates the ability to enter mainframe development with a level of familiarity that helps them to hit the ground running.

Considering the mainframe can often come with a reputation of being less innovative, adding OSS tools also helps to combat that image and bring new talent into the mix—an important consideration as the mainframe industry continues to experience a skills shortage. With modern capabilities and tools, organizations can better tap into the talent pool needed to ensure the mainframe keeps up with the pace of modernization.  

Closing the Divide With Open-Source 

The mainframe is responsible for some of the most critical business operations. It’s well-established and reliable. But at a time when innovation and modernization are the priority, that reputation isn’t enough to help move an organization forward. As modern applications grow more complex, the mainframe needs to be able to keep up. It’s a challenge that OSS can provide the answer to. With OSS, organizations can streamline the application development process, reduce costs, and keep a steady pipeline of talent flowing into the business to ensure the mainframe works seamlessly with even the most transformative projects.

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