The Leading Edge of Mainframes: Open Mainframe Project Reports Record Growth of the in 2021

By Arti Loftus October 25, 2021

Last month, Open Mainframe Project hosted their second annual Open Mainframe Summit, announcing record growth in contributions, with more than 105.31 Million Lines of Code written and over 9,600 commits submitted by its communities so far in 2021. This represents 100 percent more code than in 2020, with an increased number of active participants in the 20 project and working groups.

Participants from across the globe attended the two-day event that included presentations about diversity, equity and inclusion, trends in open source on the mainframe, edge computing, Kubernetes, and project updates for Zowe, COBOL, GenevaERS, Mentorship, and more. If you missed the event, all keynote presentations and speaking sessions are now available on the Open Mainframe Project YouTube Channel.

The Open Mainframe Project was started to provide a foundation of community-led governance and innovation for modernizing the mainframe and its path to IoT, Cloud, and Edge Computing. 

“The introduction of the edge to mainframes has led to countless industry-changing innovations,” said John Mertic, Director of Program Management at the Linux Foundation. “It is a signal of what’s to come with edge computing and beyond. Open Mainframe will continue to be the home of projects that help advance training, enterprise, DevOps and z/OS on a global scale and working closely with those thought leaders in technology adjacent to mainframes.”

The COBOL Working Group, which launched last year as a response to the increasing interest in COBOL and the misinformation of it, aims to promote and support the continued use of the COBOL language globally. One of its first missions is to identify the COBOL market, challenges, concerns, and how companies are addressing these issues.

Spearheaded by Co-Chairs Derek Britton, Director of Communication and Brand Strategy at Micro Focus, and Cameron Seay, a professor from Eastern Carolina University, the COBOL Working Group launched a global survey to learn more. The results showcase that COBOL is a proven staple with hundreds of billions of lines of production code used across many industries. The COBOL Working Group is currently working on the statistics but is giving a preview of the data at the Open Mainframe Summit. Learn more here.

The COBOL Programming Course, which launched as a project in April of last year, marked a milestone by becoming the first Open Mainframe Project to go through the lifecycle and become an active project just one year after launching. It is now fully mature and operating as an open, transparent, and sustainable project. 

GenevaERS, which was launched at the first Open Mainframe Summit last September, is the single-pass optimization engine for data extraction and reporting on z/OS. The project combines the processing power of GenevaERS, the reliability of the mainframe, and the dynamics of an open-source community. Within the year, the project solidified a governance structure, grew the community base with active participants from different companies, and created the GenevaERS R&D labs for exploring the architecture with other technologies like Apache Spark.

Zowe’s New Incubation Projects, driven by BMC and Vicom Infinity, continues to be one of the most popular projects under the Open Mainframe umbrella. It has brought new incubator projects that help explore its capabilities, including:

  • Workflow WiZard, which helps developers and systems programmers simplify the generation and management of z/OSMF workflows. Contributed by BMC, this tool assembles a workflow by reading a library of workflow steps and a properties file. It determines which steps are needed based upon rules within these templates, orders them based upon step prerequisites, and writes out an XML file of the complete workflow. Learn more in this Open Mainframe Summit session.
  • ZEBRA, which provides re-usable and industry compliant JSON formatted RMF/SMF data records enabling ISV SW and users to exploit them using open-source software. Contributed by Vicom Infinity, the Zebra project started as a Zowe Mentorship in 2020 but has grown significantly.

The Zowe Conformant Support Provider Program gives vendors the ability to showcase their Zowe support competencies. The program is a little different from the Zowe Conformance Program that exists for APIs, Desktop Apps, and CLI plug-ins. Support providers self-attest to the criteria defined by the Zowe Technical Steering Committee, which gives consumers the confidence they need to use Zowe in business-critical environments. In addition to the launch of this program, we are also announcing both IBM and Broadcom as the initial Zowe Conformant Support Providers.

New working groups were also convened, including the launch of the Debian s390x Working Group and the Open z/OS Working Group. Working Groups provide a vendor-neutral governance structure that allows members to collaborate to solve industry problems.

The new Debian s390x Working Group aims to oversee the maintenance of the s390x port to ensure it remains an official architecture for Debian. The group has already started collecting resources that will help build a community-driven effort to support the port. The long-term goal is to secure an official maintainer who will lead the engagement and share resources and perspectives of the Debian project community. Learn more here.

The Open z/OS Enablement Working Group seeks to lower barriers to access z/OS, the premier operating system for IBM System Z mainframes. As mainframes evolve, the shared nature of z/OS makes gaining access difficult.  Unlike highly-partitioned cloud environments with no shared resources and thus low-security risks, highly secured shared resources are the power behind z/OS.  Learn more in this blog.

Hosted by The Linux Foundation, the Open Mainframe Project is comprised of more than 45 business and academic leaders within the mainframe community that collaborates to develop shared toolsets and resources. Last month, the project welcomed EPAM Systems, a global provider of digital platform engineering and development services, and IN-COM, a leader in powerful application understanding tools, to its ecosystem.

“The mainframe is vital to top organizations globally,” said Shlomo Friman, CEO at IN-COM. “The powerful technology we offer organizations ensures that every user is an expert with the knowledge to efficiently and accurately tackle projects. The new generation of professionals demand new generation tools that offer, among other things, fast and accurate code and impact analysis. Getting this mainframe talent pool off to the best start is a commitment Open Mainframe Project is pursuing. In the modern mainframe world, we are excited about offering a technology that bridges between the mainframe and all other systems and platforms, as this greatly supports modernization and transformation efforts. We look forward to collaborating with the Open Mainframe Project and its member companies.”

The Open Mainframe Summit was sponsored by Broadcom, IBM, Rocket Software, SUSE, Micro Focus, Vicom Infinity, BMC, and Academic and Community Sponsors CD Foundation and FINOS.


Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Luke Bellos

Special Correspondent

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