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Modernizing Mainframe Development with Secure, Supported Open Source for z/OS

September 13, 2022

A 2022 Rocket Software report on the state of the mainframe found the mainframe continues to be a critical system of record while organizations look for new ways to deliver digital value to customers. However, the speed at which businesses operate and the complexities of a hybrid IT infrastructure are increasing. To make matters worse, many mainframe experts are nearing retirement, and the professional pool of incoming talent has little experience with mainframe technology and code—making it more difficult than ever to manage business-critical mainframe applications and data, not to mention develop new applications.

A growing number of IBM zSystems businesses are exploring ways open source software can help modernize mainframe development, drive DevOps and enable less experienced mainframe professionals to use modern tools and languages to overcome these challenges and improve productivity on the mainframe.

In 2018, the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project introduced Zowe, a first-of-its-kind open source framework based on z/OS, making it easier than ever to bridge the divide between modern applications and the mainframe. As a founding member of the Zowe coalition, Rocket Software engineers have played an integral role in the evolution of the Zowe open source framework.

Zowe opens the mainframe through a set of APIs and OS capabilities that applications build on and includes applications out of the box. The modern interfaces from Zowe, available as plug-ins and extensions, make it possible for developers to interact with z/OS like they would on a modern cloud platform.

The Benefits and Challenges of Open Source

Zowe continues to experience consistent growth as more IBM zSystems businesses adopt and implement its open source framework to accelerate mainframe modernization. Open source software provides a litany of benefits that can help zSystems businesses modernize mainframe development through capabilities that help you:

  • Drive application and infrastructure modernization
  • Enable next-gen developers on “legacy” systems
  • Improve IT flexibility and agility
  • Accelerate application development
  • Reduce costs with free and/or economical solutions
  • Start with small implementations and scale when ready


However, open source is not foolproof and comes with its own challenges that can introduce unexpected delays in operations, risks and costs. These challenges include:

  • Security vulnerabilities that increase the risk of breach
  • Delayed mean time to resolution of issues and CVEs
  • Innovation that must be sought instead of vendor-delivered
  • Maintenance that falls on developers and/or requires reliance on the open-source community
  • Increased shadow IT initiatives that create silos and introduce hidden risks
  • Lack of training that creates time-consuming learning curves

While these challenges may seem overwhelming, especially for large organizations that heavily rely on the speed of their operations, they can be overcome—with the right tools.

Overcoming Open Source Challenges with Rocket Support for Zowe

Organizations that rely on mainframe technology need assurance their open source software won’t leave them vulnerable to security risks, development delays, and regulatory infractions that can lead to wasted time and money that would be better spent on aligning innovation with business and customer goals.

That is why today, Rocket Software is introducing Rocket Support for Zowe. It gives users access to modern capabilities from Open Mainframe Project’s Zowe open-source framework that make it easy to interface with z/OS services and develop IBM z/OS applications—all while providing 24x7 support, security and compliance assurance.

Rocket Support for Zowe also includes exclusive desktop utility applications available through Rocket Zowe Utility Pack. Rocket USS Process Manager is the first of these utilities (available today), which allows users to monitor all UNIX System Services, the operating system host to much of Zowe. As Rocket continues to innovate Rocket Support for Zowe, additional applications will be made available down the line.

Rocket Support for Zowe also offers synergies with Rocket Open AppDev for Z, an open source solution that provides services and support for over 20 open source languages and tools ported for z/OS. Open AppDev for Z helps to negate skills gaps by equipping next-gen developers with familiar languages and software. Integration and automation made possible through the languages and tools supported in Open AppDev for Z enable mainframe DevOps alongside the mainframe application development interfaces and capabilities users get with Zowe.

Open source is the future of modern mainframe development, and Rocket is taking the necessary steps to ensure its customers are set for success with Rocket Support for Zowe and Rocket Open AppDev for Z. To learn more about how Rocket Support for Zowe can help you modernize mainframe development, read the press release.