Keep up to date on Mainframes

How can you make sure that your mainframe staff stay up-to-date with the latest ideas in the mainframe world? The answer is to make sure they have access to magazines, newsletters, user groups, and social media.

There are still printed mainframe-related publications (although they are available online). There’s Enterprise Tech Journal , which describes itself as being for IT technicians in the world’s largest multi-platform enterprises. The Web site contains articles, news, jobs, events, and a store. Its sister publication, Enterprise Executive, is aimed at IT managers in the world’s largest multi-platform enterprises. It is a less technical, but no less informative, than ETJ.

And, obviously, there are the IBM Redbooks. These publications provide a wealth of real-world installation, configuration and usage insights into myriad technologies with a multitude of titles.

Online publications include IBM Systems Magazine, Mainframe Edition, which also comes in AIX, IBM I, Power, and Linux on Power versions. There’s also IBM Data Magazine & Analytics Hub, which includes Use Cases, Industries, Analytics, Technology, Events, Around the Web, and For Developers.

When it comes to newsletters, there’s SHARE’s Five Minute Briefing: Data Center. In fact, Database Trends and Applications publishes a number of Five Minute Briefing newsletters, but the Data Center title should appeal directly to mainframers. There’s also Enterprise Systems, which is based on the once-celebrated Enterprise Systems Journal. The Enterprise Systems Web site and newsletter claims to provide high-end datacenter and server solutions.

But that’s only a small part of the information out there. There are plenty of informative blogs, like Planet Mainframe, including: IBM Mainframe Insights blog; Destination z, which hosts a variety of bloggers, who write on different topics each week and it hosts a variety of articles; Millennial Mainframer blog, which they describe as a fresh look at all things mainframe, although it’s primarily aimed at college students and early mainframe professionals interested in IBM mainframe technologies. In addition, you might like to look at Alan Radding’s Dancing Dinosaur blog. There’s a group from IBM’s Hursley Park Lab blogging at eightbar. There are a number of blogs at IBM’s My developerWorks.

On Facebook, you can several places for IBM mainframe users including IBM DB2 for DB2 users; IBM IMS for IMS users; and CICS Software for CICS users. There’s also the Virtual CICS user group and the Virtual IMS user group, as well as IBM Design, the IBM company page, MainframeZone, and much more.

LinkedIn has mainframe-related discussions. There’s the IBM MAINFRAME – Unofficial Group; Mainframe (COBOL,JCL,DB2,CICS,VSAM,MVS,Adabas/Natural) Experts; Mainframe Experts Network; System z Advocates and Mainframe Performance and Optimization. If you’re interested in DB2 there’s DB2 Professionals; IDUG: International DB2 Users Group; DB2 for z/OS; and DB2 for z/OS DBAs. There’s the CICS Special Interest Group; IBM CICS; and the Virtual CICS user group. For IMS there’s IBM IMS; and the Virtual IMS user group. And there are plenty of other mainframe-related groups.

On Twitter, there are lots of interesting people to follow. It’s hard to know where to start to recommend anyone. If you’re not following them already, you might want to add: @IBM_CICS, @IBM_DB2, @IBM_Informix, @IBM_InfoSphere, @IBMdatamag, @IBMDB2, @IBMSystems, @bethflood, @BigData_paulz, @craigmullins, @IDUGDB2, @sysprog101, @t_eddolls, @ajzander. In addition, there are lots of mainframers on Google plus, and there are now mainframers using Instagram (eg @ibm, @ibmsports, @ibminterconnect, @t_eddolls).

Other online sources of information include Wikipedia, which is a great online encyclopaedia that is written and maintained by its readers. The editors work hard to make sure that valuable content is not vandalized, and the site contains a surprisingly up-to-date range of mainframe-related definitions;

Plus there are useful discussions groups at IBM-MAIN listserv, RACF-L, Assembler-List, IMS, and CICS.

And, of course, there are plenty of mainframe user groups SHARE, GUIDE/SHARE Europe, and Interaction in Australia. There’s CMG (The Computer Measurement Group); there’s IDUG (International DB2 User Group); The Global WebSphere Community; and Canada has CIPS (Canada’s Association of IT Professionals).

Using these online resources, as well as the printed ones and user groups, can help keep any mainframer up-to-speed with trends and ideas in the mainframe world.

Regular Planet Mainframe Blog Contributor
Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd, and an IBM Champion since 2009. He is probably best known for chairing the Virtual IMS, Virtual CICS, and Virtual Db2 user groups, and is featured in many blogs. He has been editorial director for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook for many years.

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