Supporting the IBM Mainframe for More Than 30 Years

IBM MainframeOn April 7, 2014, IBM will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mainframe, marking an incredible achievement. In what some consider the biggest business gamble of all time, International Business Machines invested $5 billion ($35 billion in today’s dollars) in a family of six mutually compatible computers and 40 peripherals that could work together and be expanded in multiple combinations. Big Blue ended up adding 60,000 employees and 5 new major plants to support this new system. It has been the most important product announcement in the history of IBM.

In an industry where change and disruption happens every couple of years, the mainframe’s resiliency and continued evolution has both confounded industry experts (remember Stewart Alsop’s 1991 quote[1]) and validated the wisdom of the world’s leading businesses that continue to invest and run their core businesses on IBM’s Big Iron, the gold standard of Enterprise Computing.

The IBM mainframe played an important role in early core banking systems, the first airlines reservations system, and even the Apollo missions to the moon. Applications written for the early mainframes can still run today on the newest mainframe hardware and operating systems. This backwards compatibility, which is unique in the industry, has enabled large enterprise companies to continue to derive value from past investment in application development.

Today, IBM has continued to evolve the mainframe, which is now used for cloud, big data, mobile, and social computing workloads. With its high availability and secure platform, the mainframe processes the majority of the world’s business transactions and stores the majority of the world’s business data.

Serena Software and the IBM Mainframe

Serena Software has a key place in the history of the IBM mainframe. Serena has been supporting the largest mainframe customers for over 30 years. Serena was founded in 1980 by Doug Troxel. Doug is still working on special technology projects as an active member of the mainframe development team, and he serves on our board of directors.

From the very beginning, the solutions we’ve developed have a common theme – change. We detect change, replicate it, prevent it, log it, control it, merge it, approve it, version it, and package it. We synchronize change, track it, audit and report on it, set alerts for it, make dashboards of it, deploy it, release it, and back it out when needed.

Our first product, Comparex, was designed to compare two data sources and highlight the differences. This is critical in all mainframe production environments for checking that changes have been applied correctly. From flat files to VSAM, DB2 and IMS, z/FS, HFS, and even XML data streams and AES encrypted files, Comparex compares “anything to anything.”

Our second product is now the company’s flagship solution, ChangeMan ZMF. Recognized by industry analysts at Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, and others as the leading solution for Software Change and Configuration Management (SCCM) on the mainframe, ZMF is the heart of the development infrastructure for more than 90 of the Fortune 100 companies. Without ZMF, many household name businesses would not be able to meet their compliance and governance audits.

Read the case study on how ChangeMan ZMF helps British Airways manage its mainframe software.


Mark Levy is a Product Marketing Manager at Serena Software focusing on DevOps and the Enterprise. He has over 25 years of experience in enterprise software, focusing on both application development and IT operations.



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