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Feilong Project Makes z/VM More Accessible To Developers | Mike Friesenegger

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Although z/VM is a well-established hypervisor, it takes a lot of time to learn how to work with it. Many younger developers in particular nowadays do not want to play in a 3270 console, which is necessary to enter commands and interact with it, and would rather use a RESTful API. The Feilong Project, the Open Source API for z/VM automation under the Open Mainframe Project (OMP), aims to make this possible, enabling developers who are not familiar with the z/VM hypervisor to interact with z/VM through a RESTful API. This enables them to automate VM creation, the creation of networking, and provision of storage from a RESTful API interface.

“It’s very infrastructure focused. It’s very internal. Although it’s not flashy, it serves the purpose of making it easier for developers to interact with a hypervisor that they’re not very familiar with,” says Mike Friesenegger, Chair of the Feilong Project and Solution Architect – Alliances & Integrated Systems at SUSE, on the latest episode of TFiR Let’s Talk.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Although z/VM is a well-respected hypervisor, many developers do not have time to learn how to work with it and prefer to use a RESTful API instead.
  • Friesenegger explains how Feilong is being used within the community as well as within SUSE. He discusses also how it is being used in an IBM product called IBM Cloud Infrastructure Center.
  • As a founding member of the Open Mainframe Project, SUSE is a firm believer in open source and the community it brings together. Friesenegger explains SUSE’s involvement with the Open Mainframe Project.
  • The Feilong Project is bringing together a large global community. Friesenegger explains which regions their community are in and what sort of role they are playing.
  • Friesenegger explains what they are currently working on and how the community can help with testing certain capabilities and documentation.
  • The Feilong Project is currently an incubation project within the Open Mainframe Project’s set of sponsored projects. Friesenegger talks about what the future plans are for the project and how it aims to achieve them.

Connect with Mike Friesenegger (LinkedIn, Twitter)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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Here is the automated and unedited transcript of the recording. Please note that the transcript has not been edited or reviewed. 

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to for TFiR Let’s Talk in today, we have with us, once again, Mike Friesenegger, Chair of the Feilong project and Solution Architect of Alliances & Integrated Systems at SUSE. Mike, it’s great to have you on the show.

Mike Friesenegger: Thanks Swapnil. Great to be here.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you tell us a bit about what the Feilong project is all about?

Mike Friesenegger: Yeah, so since the last time we chatted, I really like to refer to Feilong as the Open Source API for z/VM automation. And so what that basically means is that people that are not familiar with the z/VM hypervisor, they can use a restful API to make it easier for them to interact with z/VM. So they can automate things like VM creation, the creation of networking, the provisioning of storage and things like that, all from a restful API interface.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you also talk about the goal, the need of the project?

Mike Friesenegger: The need is pretty simple. z/VM is a great hypervisor. It’s been around for many years, but it takes a lot of time to learn the z/VM hypervisor and how to work with it. You have to use a 3270 console to enter commands and interact with it. People these days, especially younger people just don’t really want to play in a 3270 console. They would rather use what they’ve learned out of school, which is restful APIs to interact with the system. And that’s what the product tries to do. Is it literally the project gives that capability. It’s very infrastructure focused. It’s very internal. It’s not flashy, but it serves the purpose of making it easier for developers to interact with a hypervisor that they’re not very familiar with.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Now, can you also talk about where it is being used?

Mike Friesenegger: Sure. Yeah. Well, it’s used in a number of areas. So there is actually a partner of ours or a partner of the Feilong community that uses it directly with one of their customers. And so, that’s utilizing Feilong right from the community. They contribute to the community. They pushed updates to the Feilong project. And it’s being used for automation within this particular customer. Feilong is also being embedded in a product. And this is an IBM product called IBM Cloud Infrastructure Center. An IBM Cloud Infrastructure Center is real, it’s OpenStack. So if you’re familiar with OpenStack, it’s OpenStack talking to Feilong to drive z/VM automation. And then, well, I’ll toot our own horn within SUSE so as the global solution architect within SUSE, we’re doing a lot of z/VM work, and we want to use Feilong for our automation and things like that. So we use Feilong, both as a standalone technology, but we also thanks to IBM, have access to the IBM Cloud Infrastructure Center product. And so any SUSE employee can use a self service portal to get access to Z resources within SUSE.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Talking about SUSE, your folks, of course you are a very good Open Source citizen as well. You contribute a lot of projects. So can you first of all talk about SUSE’s involvement with Feilong project, and then also, if you can talk about in general, what kind of community is there around this project?

Mike Friesenegger: Yeah. Okay. So we actually, SUSE has been, and is a founding member of the Open Mainframe Project. So we’ve been engaged with the Open Mainframe Project from day one, from when it was announced. We have people on the executive board from SUSE. We have a person that is on the marketing committee for the Open Mainframe Project. We have a SUSE person that’s part of the technical advisory committee. I back up that person. And so we have a handful of people that are involved in the operations of the Open Mainframe Project. We have a couple of people that monitor what’s going on within the Feilong, but I am the primary interactor with the Feilong project itself. From a community perspective, we have a great global community all over. We’ve got the people in China and Asia Pacific that want to work with Feilong.

We have large number of customers and partners that work with Feilong in Europe, as well as in North America. We want to be an inclusive community and we’re in the process of changing our meeting time. So in the past, we’ve been meeting in the morning US time, but that has made it difficult for some of the people in other parts of the world to join. So we’re going to flip flop. One month is going to be a morning meeting in the United States. The next month will be an evening meeting in the United States. And so people on the other side of the world will be able to contribute in the monthly calls that we have. And then, we are a very active project. We have over a hundred, I want to say, nearly 150 commits just in the last year to the project. So it is very active when it comes to code submission and merges of those codes into the project.

Swapnil Bhartiya: As you said, it’s a very active project. Can you also talk about what are the things that you folks are working on? What are the things that are in the pipeline? What does your roadmap look like?

Mike Friesenegger: Yeah, so the core code submission and merges come out of a group in China, but this group needs help. And so what we want to do, especially around testing and documentation and making sure that it works properly on multiple Linux distributions, that’s an area that I think the community can really help with. And then there are certain capabilities that need to be further tested, on top of SUSE Linux enterprise, or on top of Red Hat enterprise Linux, or on Ubuntu where we definitely look for other people to join the community and help in that testing.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you talk about what the future of this project looks like?

Mike Friesenegger: Well, basically, from a project perspective, we are currently what we call an incubation project within the Open Mainframe Project set of sponsored projects. One of the things that we would like to do is graduate from incubation status to active status, but to be able to do that, we need more people. We want more people to be part of the Feilong project, because more people makes the work and makes it much easier to get that done. So we want to get to active status as part of your moving forward. Other things we want to do is increase our membership, grow the regularly scheduled project, project meeting attendance, the OMP hosts summer mentorship program, where we like a Feilong mentee, or mentor to help a mentee with some project related to Feilong whether it be updating the documentation or testing a certain capability. So these are all the things that we’ve been talking about, and we want to continue to promote as part of the project going forward.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Mike, thank you so much for taking time out today. And of course, give us an update on the project. And as usual, I would love to have you back on the show. Thank you.

Mike Friesenegger: Awesome. Thanks Swapnil. Have a good day.

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