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Staying in Touch With the Mainframe Community

By Destination Z posted Mon December 23, 2019 03:27 PM

It’s very easy for the mainframe guy at lots of sites to get so wrapped up in work that it sometimes becomes difficult to stay in contact with the rest of the mainframe community. Keeping up to date with the latest software or useful little tricks or techniques that other people have had time to develop can just pass you by. Even if there’s a small team of people working in an organization, they can sometimes be so inward looking as to miss what’s going on in the wider IT world.

So how can an almost isolated mainframer stay in touch with the rest of the community?

One easy way is to join the Destination z community and read the website here at The great thing about this site is that it gives links to lots of other experienced mainframe bloggers such as Timothy Sipples’ The Mainframe Blog, Alan Redding’s Dancing Dinosaur, Willie Favero’s Getting the Most from DB2 for z/OS and System z, Marc Wambeke’s Mainframe Watch Belgium, Alan Harrison’s zSecurity, and many others. You can read the full list here.

If you prefer longer articles rather than blog pieces, there’s the z/Journal. They also publish Mainframe Executive. Then, of course, there’s the always interesting IBM Systems magazine, IBM Z. Perhaps less well known is C3B Consulting’s INSIGHT-SPECTRA. There’s also good coverage of mainframe news and trends at SearchDataCenter. And if you’re looking for a summary of the week’s news, subscribing to SHARE’s enewsletter, Five Minute Briefing: Data Center, is a must.

There are always user groups to join and meetings to attend. SHARE is always very popular, and I enjoy attending the GUIDE SHARE Europe conference in the UK each year. IDUG, of course, is very popular, as are many other events.

For technical people who can’t get away for conferences, a growing number of virtual groups are available. For example, the Virtual IMS user group is now in its fifth year. They run webinar-style meetings every other month, where you simply plug in a headset to your computer and take part in the meeting. You can find out more at, or they have a group on LinkedIn and a page on Facebook. Similarly, for CICS users, there’s the Virtual CICS user group, and they’re also on LinkedIn and Facebook.

For a quick insight into what’s happening in the world of mainframes and people’s opinions of those trends, there’s always Twitter. People you might like to follow include @IBM_CICS, @myzcommunity, @BarrySchrager1, @dianegjohnson, BMCMainframe, @virtualcics, @virtualims, @bethflood, @martinpacker, @WilliamDataSyst, @wcfink, @PlexSpy, @jondbray, @mwambeke, @ToolboxforIT, @CAUKI, @CAmainframe, @MainframeZone.

You can watch many mainframe-related videos on YouTube and join groups on LinkedIn and “fan” pages on Facebook. These can help keep you “in the loop.”

Each year, a new edition of the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook is free to download. It includes a mainframe strategy section with articles by industry gurus and vendors on a variety of topics. There’s a handy vendor directory section with an up-to-date list of vendors, consultants and service providers working in the z/OS environment. It provides a glossary of terminology explaining simply what all those acronyms stand for, but in a way you can understand! There’s a technical specification section, which includes model numbers, MIPS and MSUs for zEnterprise processors (z196s and z114s). A hardware timeline and a display of mainframe OS evolution are helpful illustrations. A media guide section covers similar ground to this blog (but in more detail). For many people, the highlight of the yearbook is the mainframe user survey. It illustrates what’s been happening at other users’ sites. It’s a good way for mainframers to compare what they are planning to do with what other sites have done. In fact, the yearbook provides a straightforward, one-stop shop for everything a mainframer needs to know.

Keeping in touch has never been more important. These are just some of the ways that mainframers can do it.

Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd., an IT consultancy. For many years, he was the editorial director for Xephon’s Update publications and is now contributing editor to the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook. Eddolls has written three specialist IT books, and has had numerous technical articles published. He currently chairs the Virtual IMS and Virtual CICS user groups.