The 2017 VM Workshop

July 21st, 2017
Marianne Eggett
z Systems Solutions Consultant

The VM Workshop returned to its grassroots at Ohio State University this year, that is, its second-birth’s grassroots. This new reinvented VM Workshop is actually the resurrection of the VM Workshop of the 1970’s, which stopped meeting in 1998 when VM interest was slowing down. Then came its rebirth, driven by Linux on z Systems and IBM’s chip architecture – the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL). What started as curiosity in the late 1990’s resulted in a highly-accepted platform for consolidating distributed workload on z Systems. The z Systems offered all the RAS advantages, while saving money in software costs. (See reference BLOG 1. below.)

With the growth of Linux on z came the demand for ongoing training. Hence, the VM Workshop was reborn in 2011.

What Happened This Year?

The VM Workshop provided 2 ½ days of technical education to z/VM and z/VSE customers. Three Labs were run; z/VM installation and Configuration, Introduction to Docker Containers and Blockchain Fabric-Composer, which were scheduled to allow participants to go to all three. In addition, the z/VM Product Manager, Bill Bitner, provided several presentations from IBM Poughkeepsie on what is new and planned with z/VM. With nearly 40 break-out sessions focused on z/VM, Linux and the infrastructure supporting this platform, the participants had much to choose from. In addition, this year offered a z/VSE track of topics dedicated to the z/VSE folks. Over 125 folks flocked to Ohio State for this Conference.

One focus on the z Systems platform is expanding use of large real memory to house large database engines. MarieDB, MySQL or even IBM’s proprietary database, Db2 BLU expects large memory for its in-memory databases. The Linux on z Systems platform is evolving to enable just that… to become a massive database engine with fast I/O and hardware enabled encryption of the data. Fast and secure is its focus.

This is the segway for open source software enablement, such as Docker containers and its infrastructure, which requires a flexible, virtualized environment. A few years ago, Docker containers where rarely used in the commercial setting. Now, Docker is seen as the new development methodology with benefits of reducing complexity, reducing memory footprint requirement vs traditional virtual guests, and allowing the application technical team to create and maintain their own containers. In one lecture, the mainframe audience heard how this new architecture compares to z/OS address spaces, and interesting enough, it’s fairly similar in concept! (See reference BLOG 2. below.)

Blockchain is the up and coming secure electronic methodology for financial transacting. Blockchain’s platform of choice is LinuxONE. Presentations outlined the technology architecture and the secrets to the locked-down financial security of Blockchain. Still in its infancy, the audience heard details of the first financial roll-out. This architecture is quickly moving toward industry acceptance and implementation, driven by the ever-increasing demand for a failsafe financial transacting methodology.

Mainline Shined

Mainline chose two topics for this year’s conference. Andy Hartman, Mainline’s Senior Linux Consultant, presented “Using Kickstart to install Red Hat under z/VM”. Kickstart is a process that can easily create Linux guests, but it is not highly utilized by our customers. Andy presented the topic and demonstrated the simplicity on Mainline’s z13s.

The second topic presented was “Running a Successful POC for Linux on z Systems”, given by myself. After twelve years of Proof of Concepts, this topic was filled with examples of what worked and what didn’t work, in executing the POCs. IBM, IBM Business Partners, such as Mainline, and other software vendors are available to provide their technical expertise to ensure POC successes.


This conference was a whirlwind of 2 ½ days of networking, learning and enjoying our community of like-minded z Systems comrades. The platform continues to evolve, enabling new leading-edge infrastructure technologies, such as Docker Containers, Blockchain and LinuxONE. This conference offers all of this for a fee of only $100, which includes most of the dining needs. That’s a lot of great information for $100! Dorm Lodging is offered as an inexpensive alternative to expensive hotels.

Based on the high attendance of the Saturday noon close-out session, the Conference achieved its goal, which is to provide high-value training to its community, at an inexpensive cost.

Next Year Conference

Watch for details on the 2018 VM Workshop, planned for June 2018 at the home of the Aggies, North Carolina A&T State University, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Referenced BLOGs:


For further information about this excellent conference, please reach out to Marianne Eggett at Please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly, or click here to contact us with any other questions.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *