Big Iron Poetry

As part of the mainframe student contest, some of the 700 college students entered wrote a haiku.  Here is a sample: 

The wind blows softly
Through the leaves of autumn. wait,
That's just the mainframe
--Van Landrum, U. of South Alabama

Life on a mainframe
Is the life I want for me
Share my C.P.U.
-- Jeffrey Painter, NC State

F3 - Please take me
To a previous menu
And I will thank thee
--Marc Turnes, Northern Illinois U.

Mainframe oh mainframe
Today you work your hardest
Mainframe I thank you
--Stanley Hu, NC State

New world discovered 
Mainframes are a legacy 
In old lies future.
-- Ezra Fernandez, SUNY Binghamton U.

Less a lumbering
Dinosaur as is believed
Big iron is speed
-- Brian Capps of Portland Community College

Mainframes confound me
About them I am learning
With great interest
-- Nathan Kruser, SUNY Binghamton

I never knew that
Mainframes were so widely used
Throughout the whole world!
-- Miles Mykel, NC State

Golly the mainframe
It is so great and speedy
And so efficient!
-- Andrew Galla, California University of Pennsylvania

Which of the two is preferred?
Either way, convert
--Frank Migacz, Northern Illinois U.

I'm on z/OS
Mainframe enterprise OS 
Better than the rest
--Tim Pinkawa, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I thought they were gone
Today, I learned they were not
Mainframes are quite cool
--Matthew Scouten, Marist College

Mainframes are a thrill
Always tough and ever still
Mighty machines, yes.
--AlexSandra Ellen, Marist College

Thousands of options
Stable like the mountain peak
Can it play Starcraft?
-- Ian Penney, Memorial University of Newfoundland

IBM's mainframe
A stable lighthouse shining
Saves us from darkness
-- Ian De Silva, Michigan State U.

Nothing can compare
This mainframe beats all others
Flat into the ground
--Joshua Roys, Michigan State U.

Mainframe, desire
But not too much, or it will
Surely overheat
--Aaron McMahan, West Virginia University at Parkersburg

Simply powerful
I hope everything goes well
Mainframe can be fun
--Thomas Chan, Northern Illinois U.

IOB and TCB   
Control blocks are fun
--Jason Arnold, Northern Illinois U.

by Timothy Sipples December 30, 2005 in Contest
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Mainframe Integration News Roundup

I had been meaning to package up a few recent snippets of mainframe integration/SOA news that caught my eye.

But it seems the good folks at Robert Frances Group have done it for me. So rather than replicate their work I will fair use it.

  • SOA Software Inc. acquired the X4ML Mainframe Web services platform from Merrill Lynch. SOA Software is renaming X4ML to Service Oriented Legacy Architecture (SOLA). SOLA provides SOA support and a Web services platform to access to mainframe applications. SOLA hosts the services on the mainframe, automatically documents services in a repository, and provides a browser-based development environment for service creation. SOLA will be available this month and pricing will start at $125,000, said the company.
  • Seagull Software Systems, Inc. announced LegaSuite for CICS to support transforming CICS applications to SOA assets. The solution provides the ability to wrap CICS business processes into reusable components for SOA integration and includes Business Process Management (BPM) modeling and workflow capabilities, said Seagull. LegaSuite for CICS is currently available.
  • GT Software, Inc. announced Ivory Service Architect, a set of tools for mainframe developers to make SOA services. The two important parts of Ivory Service Architect are Ivory Studio, a graphical integrated development environment, and Ivory Server for service processing and deployment. Developers can graphically coordinate applications, data, mainframe transactions, and Web services into multi-step, multi-operation business services, said the company. Ivory Service Architect is available on Jan. 3, 2006 and pricing starts at $25,000.

The market is heating up, which is a good thing. The more methods of providing access to mainframe services in a SOA context there are, the more the zEcosystem will benefit.

by James Governor December 20, 2005
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The Internet Division

IBM logoIn the "old days" -- ten years ago -- we used to say that a month was three or four Internet months or that a year was three or four Internet years. It was a way of expressing how fast things were moving. Now that it has been ten years since the Internet Division was started at IBM (and four years since my e-tirement began) it seems appropriate to reflect on those early days. My colleague Irving Wladawsky-Berger posted a nice story of his recollections of the formation of the division and my goal here is to complement his posting with some of my thoughts.

Before getting into the history, I must say how proud I am to see how has evolved from a small computer under the desk at IBM Headquarters in Armonk to a global powerhouse of a communications medium. I can't say that I foresaw even a fraction of the amazing capabilities of the Internet but one thing I was sure of -- it was an amazing breakthrough in how to communicate with people both inside and outside of the company.

It was May 24, 1994 when came to life after a lot of hard work by my colleagues. (take a look at an page from 1996). The history of the effort has been reported in a number of magazines and books, including a story in the Harvard Business Review. The effort was inspired, in part, by a paper called "Get Connected" which I wrote in late 1993. The concepts described in the paper seem very primitive now, but at the time most people thought they were revolutionary or radical or even weird.

There were many firsts on It was not the first website but it was a very early pioneer in the commercial exploitation of the web. It was first to have a CEO give an audio message on the homepage, first of the top largest companies in the world to put it's annual report on the web and provide an online employment application form. Back in those days Microsoft was saying that the web would not amount to much because it was too slow and too insecure. There were many "heroes" in the pioneering days of Internet technology at IBM and I was privileged to be part of the group. There was a grassroots knowledge of the Internet in the company and I became the "spiritual leader" that helped them to be heard. Irving was the executive who enabled me to be heard. Last month Irving and I spent a morning being interviewed by some of the team on our opinions about the subject of innovation. A video of the interviews and podcast are posted here. And now for a bit of the history. (read more)

by John R Patrick December 19, 2005
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Little Help Here

If you're at all familiar with IBM eServer Magazine, Mainframe Edition, you'll know that the final column that runs at the back of the magazine is called Stop Run, and it's a one page eclectic look at the mainframe world. It can highlight interesting people, unusual uses for a mainframe, ancient mainframes still in use today and just interesting stories in general that get passed around in the mainframe community.

Well, my folder of potential Stop Run topics is empty, with the exception of a dried squashed fly at the bottom. And, although I considered writing about that fly, I didn't think it would be all that interesting to mainframe readers. Soooo. . .

How's about it, mainframe blog readers? Do you have any interesting stories from your many, or few, years in the mainframe world? Do you have interesting mainframe-related hobbies? Non-mainframe-related hobbies? Have you ever killed anyone, and the guilt has eaten at you for so long, you want to confess in a future Stop Run? Are you suffering from a mainframe-related illness? If you answered yes to any of these, or you have ideas of your own you'd like to pitch by me, please let me know, either here, or e-mail me at

Thanks, in advance, for any input you can provide on this.

by Yossarian9 December 13, 2005 in People
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DB2 meets CMDB and RSS: an interesting future

I have known BMC's Fred Johannessen for quite a few years now and always enjoyed working with him. I am enjoying his blog and I figured he has some ideas worth considering and analysing. I wish BMC would just hand him the money and say: "go build this" because the idea is really interesting.

The idea in question? CMDB meets RSS. (Configuration Management Database meets Really Simple Syndication).

Why not use RSS as a mechanism to announce changes to the CMDB? Interested parties (business user, network ops, development, or DBAs say, could subscribe to a particular system relationship, and if it changed, they could be automatically notifed of the change.

Fred makes the great point that most organisations don't have mature change management processes in place. The niceness of RSS in this context, is that its very good for the kind of lightweight workflows where the process is not that well-defined.

Fred's key insight - Change management above all requires effective communication, and RSS is an effective and lightweight communications and notification.

So what vendor will be the first to market with an RSS or ATOM-based change management notification client?

by James Governor December 12, 2005 in Future
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From System 360 to XBox 360

Just came across this blog ITscout authored by Jeff Tash.

I wanted to post it because he points to System 360, and this is after all a mainframe blog...

But perhaps more importantly - did you know that the notion of 360 degrees began in Iraq...

by James Governor December 9, 2005
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Boy, that must have stretched the guys at Hursley Park

Microsofties continue to damn break their arms patting themselves on the back for not selling an enterprise service bus (ESB). Rich Turner goes at it here : SOA, ESB and Microsoft's refusal to blindly adopt nefarious terminology.

He quicky leaps into a strawman, claiming Microsoft is different from those bad people that sell "a SOA". I don't know of any middleware vendor that claims to sell "a SOA". Tools for building SOAs, sure, but noone is claiming they provide "a SOA". If you disagree Rich, why not point to one?

I agree service orientation is a useful way to think about some of the disciplines that underpin more effective IT and service reuse.  But trust Microsoft to drop "architecture"... I tend to think an architectural approach is not an optional extra in delivering value across the services exposed through service orientation, but maybe that's just me.

Why am I posting this on the mainframe blog? Because of this statement from the blog in question:

Take IBM's ESB for example. The first characteristic that they mandate for an ESB is that it must be standards based. What is their message broker based on? MQSeries? Is MQ standards based? No - it's entirely proprietary! So how do they claim it's standards based? They've added a SOAP gateway to MQSeries and called it Message Broker! Boy, that must have stretched the guys at Hursley Park.

Given that my recent Hursley Warm Beer and mainframe SOA posts generated a little commentary I figured I would keep the triangulation going. Surely someone out there feels like addressing Rich's comments?

What is traditional ESB? That is what they do at Hursley, isn't it? What do you think?

IBM has 20k MQSeries customers. Many of them have built service-oriented architectures on that messaging foundation. From that perspective it has a significant lead in service-orientation, let alone SOA or ESB.

Rich's post also relies on the common fallacy that Microsoft technology installs itself somehow, that problems are solved by magic:

We'd much rather work to help understand a custmer's requirements and objectives and help the customer implement a solution that satisfies all the requirements rather than try to confuse them to the point that they give up and resignedly hire a legion of consultants to do for them what they could do for themselves.

Who is this "we"? Either you're working on requirements, objects and discipline or you are not. Doing so requires bodies, not just products. "Do for themselves"? What - Avenade and Accenture aren't part of the MS delivery mechanism...

The market is confused, to Rich's point. And people with solid architectural skills are in short supply.

So Hursley folks - stretched or not? ESB or not. SOA or not? Does architecture matter?

IBM makes it abundantly clear in its marketing that SOA is hard, that it is not a silver bullet you can drop in to solve all known integration problems. SOA requires education, application refactoring, data and process modeling, and a lot of hard things that don't fit a packaged software model.

Who is it selling an ESB again? 

by James Governor December 8, 2005
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Nostalgia rules?

I drive my kids (actually they are adults now) mad with music. They come to me with some new track they have downloaded or whatever and say "Dad, listen to this, you'll love it", because they realise that I love music / write music / play music etc. I start listening, grin sweetly and walk them to the lounge, extract the vinyl/cassette/CD/MP3 from my collection and play them the original. They hate that!

Which series of thoughts led me to thinking about Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the joys of writing generalised pieces of codes with standard interfaces, and it reminded me of the way we used to write IMS transactions - 3270 screen giving you input via MFS, calling a transaction, processing, and then squirting the output back again in a defined format. Not wildly dissimilar to XML into Web Services really? 

The problem is, of course, that every generation (of people / computing or whatever) wants to come up with new nomenclature and pretend that they have invented something new and wondrous. I, on the other hand, am a cynical old fool who thinks that nothing new has happened in computing in the last 20 (or more) years. This is because in my job I have the luxury of looking at it all from a 50,000 ft level and asking what computers actually do? They process data. That's it. You stick the data in, and you hope that it comes out later at the right time, in the right place, at the right speed. We just make a huge industry out of making it all seem incredibly complicated.

Which, at last, brings me to where this whole thought strand (think Pensieve if you watch/read Harry Potter) is going. Let's stop arguing about mainframe vs distributed, z/OS vs Unix or whatever. Do you think your average CEO cares? Let's stop getting excited about technology and ask the business what it actually wants, because then we can decide what is the best system/mechanism to deliver it. Let's get rid of this bloody silly name IT (which smacks of nerds talking technology) and work on what's important - delivering services that make your company more profitable.

What's that got to do with mainframes? Well, amazingly it will often come out as the platform of choice for reasons of security, integrity, cost, I/O bandwidth etc. and it will also be the backbone of many SOA implementations so think about how you used to write those transactions. What should  the common pieces / functions be - how do I find them - which people should I allocate to the key ones - how granular do I want them to be - and most important of all, what are the quantifiable benefits I am going to get from this projcet, because that is the starting point, which dictates your level of investment and is the communication point between you (IT) and the business.   

by pwarmstrong December 8, 2005
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What happens here, stays here


A motto for Sin City, or for data processing on the mainframe ?

At the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas this week, Computerworld reports that 40% of the audience poll said mainframes are part of their I/T environments.

Maybe they're afraid to gamble.

by rjhoey December 7, 2005
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Mainframe Newsletter / e-zine

Not sure if you are all aware of this newsletter written by the nice chaps at Arcati. And there are some interesting e-zines here.

by pwarmstrong December 6, 2005
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