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Top Mainframe Training Resources for 2020

Authors Photo Christopher Tozzi | March 17, 2020

The mainframe scene remains vibrant. Yet mainframe training resources can be tough to find.

As young mainframe programmers can attest, few university computer science departments teach mainframe administration or programming these days, and you’ll have a harder time finding free mainframe training materials online than you will guides to trendier topics like blockchain programming or Kubernetes deployment.

Still, mainframe training resources are out there. You just have to know where to look. Below, we round up the best mainframe learning resources for 2020.

Online mainframe training from IBM

As the leading vendor of mainframe systems, IBM unsurprisingly has invested considerable resources in producing training materials for mainframes. There are guides to working with system Z, IBM’s modern mainframe line, along with video material that provides an introduction to mainframes. The latter guides are ideal if you want a quick overview of mainframes, but are not yet at the level where you need deep technical instruction; for that purpose, the system Z learning materials are a better fit.

IBM Redbook: Introduction to the New Mainframe

If you learn best from a traditional book, you are likely to find value in Introduction to the New Mainframe, a mainframe learning resource published by IBM as part of its Redbook line.

Although this book was published in 2006, the material remains relevant for modern mainframe systems, as it focuses on z/OS, the operating system for modern IBM mainframes.

Given that there have been relatively few books published in recent years about mainframes, this IBM text remains a useful mainframe learning resource, and is worth the fifty-dollar price tag.

What On Earth Is a Mainframe?

Beyond the realm of official IBM mainframe books, another still-valuable title is David Stephens’s What on Earth Is a Mainframe?

Although the book’s title might suggest that it is only a high-level overview of what mainframes are, the text actually delves deeper. It begins with a basic introduction to mainframes, but then dives into technically specific topics like z/OS application development. And it does all this in a way that is designed to be accessible to “total beginners,” to quote from the book’s subtitle.

If you need to learn how to administer and write software for a mainframe, this is another valuable book to keep on your shelf. At $21.50, it’s also less than half the price of the IBM Redbook described above.

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In-person mainframe training 

Are you the type that learns best in a brick-and-mortar classroom setting? If so, the in-person mainframe training courses offered by Web Age Solutions are up your alley.

The courses cover a wide range of technical topics, from COBOL programming to mainframe database administration. Most take about ten days to complete and are offered, according to the company’s website, in a variety of locations across the United States and Canada. (For specific date and location information, you need to contact the company.)

Online mainframe training from Interskill Learning

For any time, anywhere mainframe training, Interskill Learning offers the ability to receive official IBM credentials as part of their mainframe learning paths. Boasting over one million mainframers trained, Interskill offers thousands of hours of mainframe training and adds IBM certificates regularly.

Mainframe MOOC

Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, devoted to mainframes are surprisingly hard to come by.

If you speak German, however, you have one potential mainframe MOOC option available. The course, which is delivered via the openHPI MOOC platform, was initially offered in 2017. Its description promises that the course is for “anyone who is interested in the theme of mainframes” and seeks a basic introduction to the topic.

Read our white paper “Getting the Most from Your Mainframe” as an additional mainframe educational resource.