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Open Mainframe and Open Source Summits 2019

At the tail end of August I had the opportunity to head down to San Diego for a few days to attend the Open Source on the Mainframe Mini-Summit and Open Source Summit North America.

I had never been to an event put on by the Open Mainframe Project and saw it as a nice opportunity to quickly get up to speed on the open source work happening on the z/OS side of things. The event didn’t disappoint.

The talks began with an introduction from John Mertic on the general open source ecosystem for mainframes and the value that open source brings to the ecosystem (slides). Joe Winchester followed his presentation with a talk where he dove into some of the stats of the modern mainframe and specifically into Zowe. I had heard the project name before, but this even was the first time I actually got a glimpse of it, which began in Joe’s talk (slides) and continued in a talk about Zowe specifically by Thomas Mcquitty.

Zowe is really where the modern mainframe open source tooling shines, as described on the website:

“Zowe offers modern interfaces to interact with z/OS and allows you to work with z/OS in a way that is similar to what you experience on cloud platforms today.”

There’s a web-based GUI that gives you a kind of “desktop” that allows you to interact with the system and data in a way that’s more natural to those of us with an x86 background. There’s a CLI which opens a whole world of scripting and automation possibilities. Having this tool be open source has fostered an active community spanning a bunch of different companies and organizations contributing to both the core of the tool, as well as third party plugins and other support. Coming from the x86 world, I have certainly come to expect this level of flexibility with my Linux-based infrastructure, so it’s refreshing to see it come to z/OS too.

The event concluded with a series of Lightning talks, one of which was from Jeff Reser of SUSE who brought Linux to this event! It was nice seeing a talk on the Linux side of things, and I did learn something new: SUSE has had a release for s390x longer than anyone else (slides).

More photos from the mini-summit here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157710709212201

Immediately following the mini-summit I headed over to an event being put on by the San Diego Red Hat Meetup group. It was nice syncing up with some folks about upcoming articles I have coming out on opensource.com, and to chat about s390x ports of Linux software. The talk for the event was given by Ben Cotton on Fedora and the future of operating systems where he talked about some of the new technology they’re trying out with Fedora to modernize management of software on the operating system.

At the Open Source Summit the next morning I attended the keynotes. While we were at the mainframe summit the previous day, my friends over in POWER had their own event and some big announcements around the open sourcing of key parts of the POWER processor, and this was highlighted during the keynotes. Mainframes did have a spot too, with a quick mention of the summit, Zowe and some of the other active projects in the Open Mainframe Project.

My focus at this event was the booth and letting developers we met at the event know about the LinuxONE Community Cloud so they could take the first step towards seeing if their application would run on the s390x architecture. It was also a nice opportunity to sync up more casually with several of my colleagues who work out of different IBM offices than I do.

The LinuxONE crew!

Beyond the booth, I met up with several people during this event, including folks who are exploring porting their applications to other architectures. One of the things I realized upon talking to them was how important getting the job-runners ported to s390x is. Access to the platform is one thing, but if their CI/CD tooling won’t run on the virtual machines we provide to the community they’re left pretty stuck.

More photos from the Open Source Summit here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157710709705562

All the work stuff aside (even thought that is fun too!), I thoroughly enjoyed the event party at the famous USS Midway aircraft carrier. This is the second aircraft carrier museum I’ve been to, the other being the USS Hornet in Alameda. I’d love to go back to the Midway some time though, it’s a huge ship and only a subsection was open during the event party.

More photos from the USS Midway here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157710709723087