25 wishes for the mainframe anno 2023

I listed my wishes for the mainframe. Can we have this please ?

For our software and hardware suppliers:

  1. Continuous testing, at reasonable cost.

Continuous testing is not an option anymore. For the speed that modern agile software factories need, continuous functional, regression and performance testing are mandatory. But with mainframes, the cost of continuous testing quickly become inhibitive. Currently all MSUs are the same, and the new testing MSUs are driving the hardware and more importantly the MLC software costs through the roof. 

Please not through yet another impractical License model (see later).

  1. Real Z hardware for flexible Dev & Test. 

For reliable and manageable regression and performance testing, multiple configurations of test environments are needed, on real Z hardware. The emulation software zPDT or zD&T is not fit-for-purpose and not a manageable and maintainable solution for these needs.

  1. Some problem, same solution for our software suppliers.

Customers do not want to notice that development teams of IBM / CA/Broadcom / Compuware / BMC / HCL /  Rocket / … are geographically dispersed (pun). Please let all your software developers in your company work the same way, on shared problem. 

  1. Sysplex is not an option but a given.

Everything sysplex-enabled by default please. Meaning, ready for data sharing, queue sharing, file sharing, VIPA, etcetera.

  1. Cloud is not an option but a given.

I do not mean Saas. I mean everything is scripted and ready to be automated. Everything can be engineered and parameterised once and rerun many times.

  1. Open source z/OS sandbox for everyone (community managed– do we want to help with this?).

Want to boost innovation on the mainframe? Let’s have a publicly accessible mainframe for individual practitioners. And I mean for z/OS!   

  1. Open source code (parts) for extensions (radicalize ZOWE and Zorow like initiatives).

Give us more open source for z/OS. And the opportunity for the broad public to contribute. We need a community mainframe for z/OS open source initiatives.

  1. Open APIs on everything.

Extend what z/OSMF has given us: APIs on everything you create. Automatically. 

  1. Everything Unicode.

Yes there are more characters than those in codepage 037,and they are really used on mainframes outside the US.

  1. Automate everything.


  1. Fast and easy 5 minute OS+MW installation (push button), like Linux and Windows.

Ok make it half an hour. Still too challenging? Ok, half a day. (Hide SMP/E for customers?)

  1. Clean up old stuff.

There is a lot of things that are not useful nowadays anymore. For example, ISPF is full of it. For example Primary ISPF screen ISR@PRIM Option 1, 4, 5 7 can go. Many other things (print and punch utilities, really). 

  1. Standardized z/OS images.

Remove customization options. Work on a standardized z/OS image. We don’t need the option to rename SYS1.LINKLIB to OURCO.CUSTOM.LINKLIB. Define a standard. If customers want to deviate, it is their problem, not all ours.

  1. Standardized software distribution.

My goodness everyone has invented something to get code from the installation to their LPARs because there’s nothing there. Develop/define a standard. (Oh, and we do not need SMP/E on production systems).

  1. Radically remove innovation hurdles.

For example stop (near) eternal downward compatibility (announce everything must be 64 bit from 2025 forward). Abandon assembler. Force customers to clean up their stuff too.

  1. Radical new pricing.

Ok if it applies to innovative/renovated applications. (But keep pricing SIMPLE please. No 25 new license models, just 1.)

  1. Quality first, speed next.

Slower is not always worse, even into day’s agile world… Fast is good enough.

  1. Support a real sharing community.

We need the next-gen CBT Tape.

  1. A radical innovation mindset.

Versus “this is how we have done things the past 30 years so it must be good”. Yawn.

  1. Everything radically dynamic by design.

Remove need for (unnecessary) IPLs, rebinds, restarts (unless in rippling clusters), …Kill all Exits (see later).

  1. Delete the assembler.

Remove assembler interfaces (anything is better than assembler). Replace with open APIs. Remove all (assembler) exits (see later).

  1. Dynamic SQL.

By default.

  1. More memory.

As much memory as we can get (at a reasonable price). (Getting there, kudo’s.)

  1. Cheap zIIPs.

Smaller z/OS sites crave zIIPs to run the innovative tools like z/OSMF, ZOWE, Ansible, python, etcetera seamlessly.

  1. Removeexits.

Give us parameters, inifiles yaml, JSON, properties, anything other than exits. Better even: give us no options for customization. Standardize.

For our mainframe users:

Kill old technology. Assembler, custom build ISPF interfaces, CLISTs, unsupported compilers, applications using VSAM or worse BDAM, …

Modernise your DevOps pipeline. Use modern tools with modern interfaces and integrations. They are available.

Re-architect applications. Break silo’s into (micro) services while rebuilding applications. (Use Microservices where useful, not as a standard architecture)

Retire old applications. Either revamp or retire. If you have not touched your application for more than 2 years, it has become an operational risk. 

Hire young people, teach them new tools, forbid them to use old tools. Yes I know we need 3270, but not to edit code.

Task your young people with technology modernization.

What am I missing?