February 7, 2017 | IBM Z

For millennials, the mainframe is a land of opportunity!


For millennials, mainframe is a land of opportunity!

History has proven that the mainframe will continue to be a major player in large scale IT computing for the foreseeable future.  Mainframe scalability, security, and reliability have continued to be the best choice for many verticals where secure, high-volume, continuous operations is critical.  Further, as security, availability, and high-volume throughput becomes more and more critical to growing market verticals, the z/OS mainframe strengths will become even more attractive and compelling.


Out of the ashes of the mainframe’s premature demise come real opportunities for the millennial generation.

Manpower The first tech-savvy generation, the Baby Boomers, is retiring at a rate of 10,000 people a day according to a Social Security Administration report*. As this workforce continues to retire, millennials have the opportunity to lead a technical and cultural revitalization of this proven technology that continues to house and manage a significant portion of the world’s business and scientific data.

Skillset Academia has moved its focus to distributed networks and related technologies.  This has resulted in a shortage of skills and talents in traditional z/OS technologies, creating another opportunity for fresh, high-tech minds to take advantage of.

Innovation Every team is best served by having members with complementary skills and talents.  Innovation often comes from an influx of talent capable and willing to challenge the status quo, and drive innovation.


The good news is that the z/OS mainframe has already evolved past the traditional monolithic, plodding, green screen, waterfall-centric environment of the previous century, while maintaining its 99.99% availability superiority, processing power, and security.  There are also many robust complementary software tools to facilitate scheduling, SDLC processes, workload balancing, monitoring, output management, automated deployment, etc.

GUI Development Environments

One key category of facilitating software is GUI Development Environments.  IBM Rational Developer for System z (RDz), along with other development platforms, provide modern point-and-click GUI environments to facilitate development activities, and to reduce the learning curve of many of the traditional mainframe technologies.  These modern platforms also facilitate skills development for maintaining applications written in traditional mainframe technologies including Cobol, PL/1, CICS, IMS, JCL, etc.


Integrating the appropriate tools into your GUI Development platform is critical to minimize knowledge transfer and maximize productivity.  Software Engineering of America provides tools that integrate with RDz and other eclipse-based development platforms. SEA’s JCLplus+ and XREFplus+ tools include plugins to facilitate batch Job maintenance:

  • JCLplus+ Plugin – Provides color-coded JCL maintenance facilities that allow developers to validate JCL using a simple right-click approach. The plugin also enables automatic enforcement of JCL standards and the ability to automatically convert Development JCL to Production JCL.  This automation accelerates testing, improves quality, and ultimately reduces time to market.
  • XREFplus+ – Provides insights into the application architecture by showing dependencies between the current application/Job and other applications and Jobs. Identifying application interdependencies at the data set, program, and stored Procedure levels is critical to efficient, error-free application maintenance.

Additional tools can also facilitate the automation of batch job test cases (e.g. Test each Job that executes a modified stored Proc), and can provide automated JCL flowchart diagrams for educational and operational runbook use.  These facilities can accelerate testing and improve quality throughout the SDLC processes.  Ultimately this enables shorter development cycles, increased agility and faster speed to market.


While the z/OS operating platform has evolved to improve operational efficiencies and improve speed to market, it is time for the next generation of technology workers to challenge the status quo and drive the innovations needed to best support tomorrow’s ever-changing business needs.


*Source:  Washington Post