IBM MTM 2020: Blog update

Hiya! WHOW, what a year… right?

I’ve received a lot of contact form entries asking for Master The Mainframe 2020 blogs. For the ones in a hurry (TL;DR): I won’t be doing master the mainframe anymore.


Just my opinion. The system is still great, but just not for me.

Wow, you’re still here? Awesome!

I have tried the new formula they took on and it’s not my thing. Maybe it’s a motivational issue, but I’m 5 challenges into part 2 and I personally don’t like all the interaction with Visual Studio Code. The instructions via PDFs, hidden forums posts, the points system, leaderboards, … are also not my thing. It’s infinitely more difficult to navigate than the MyBlueMix version, seriously.

It feels more like I’m learning to work with a tool, rather than interacting directly with the mainframe. I’m probably wrong. But because of this, I believe I’m not learning how a mainframe works, but rather what I need to do with the extension in order to do “stuff”.

I know I’m not the target audience, but I feel something is missing. It feels like using Scratch to create a game, rather than learning how to code something you want to make. Are currently employed mainframers already using this CLI in production/real world?

Or maybe I’m not far enough into the challenges? 

Even then, I believe my mainframe journey with the contest has come to an end. I’ll probably continue on MVS3.8 tk4-.

Something really worth doing in this year’s contest

There’s some optional challenges where you install an Apache Web Server on a Linux Cloud instance. That’s something we didn’t get to do in the past 2 years. There’s also Zendesk and Ansible in part 3, that’s really interesting for people looking to get into DEVOPS, but surely a full blown DEVOPS course would be a hundred times better.

Links (you need to be authenticated):

I might not know about any other interesting challenges because I only did like 4-5 challenges in part 2.

What does it look like now?

For the curious veterans used to the MyBlueMix version, here’s an instruction page:

And here’s the actual instructions for that page in PDF form:

What are your plans? Are you participating?

9 thoughts on “IBM MTM 2020: Blog update

  1. Im late to this party but I am actually doing the challenges now in the hopes of landing an apprenticeship. I find them somewhat challenging once I got to the ISPF mainframe part. Really wish you would have decided to do this one Kevin. I could have used the help. Would you happen to know where I can get some guidance on some of the exercises? I appreciate the help.

    1. Hi Steve

      I haven’t been active in the mainframe scene for a while now, so I could only refer you to their Slack if they still use that. Doesn’t the new platform have a forum where you can ask questions?

      Kind regards,

  2. Hi Kevin, Happy New Year 2021!
    I compete again, yes I know, this is maybe the future (VS, Zowe, Ansible, etc), but presently the industry waits for a “traditional” way more than these new stuffs. Then for the people who don’t know what 3270 is about, and present themselves as mainframe developers, more than one deception is gonna happen :/
    Anyway, if you are not busy, the MTM is a nice distraction most of the time …

  3. I just went through the MTM 2020 Challenge to get a refresher on mainframe development – I took a decade off doing web development as well as creating desktop systems for some local companies – and I have to say, the MTM 2020 Challenge was just about useless as far as teaching anyone how to become a mainframe developer. I could go on and on about how much this was NOT like the real world development process, but I;ll just say that I was very very disappointed with it – especially when I went through your blog and saw what these challenges covered in the two prior years.

    1. Hi Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m normally not a guy that would write a bad review about something, but this time I really felt the need to write one.

      I sincerely hope someone at IBM reads this as it’s an incredibly sad sign for this competition if enthousiasts like you and me feel like this.

      I wish you the best for your further development endeavours.

      Kind regards,
      – Kevin

  4. I completely agree with you on this. I already have my MTM badges but I wanted to do it again this year for review and to see if I could learn some new stuff. I quickly grew frustrated because I was spending so much time trying to figure out the new layout and all the hidden challenges etc. that I have barely made any actual progress with the mainframe part of it.
    It seems like they tried to fix something that didn’t need to be fixed for the sake of being “modern” or “hip.” In my view, anyone who doesn’t like working with a 3270 emulator or ISPF should not be choosing a career in mainframe computing.
    (And for those who are interested, the podcast Terminal Talk just released an episode discussing the new look of the MTM contest.)

    1. Hi HC

      Sorry for my tardiness. Slim chance that you’ll read this but I still want to respond.

      You said, ‘for the sake of being “modern” or “hip“’, and I can’t agree more. Just looking at a challenge page and I can already count 4 to 5 emojis. Anytime this happens, to me, it’s a red flag. Or maybe I’m too old and boring?

      I now have the feeling that they’re hosting master the mainframe more as a marketing move.

      For the interested, this is a link to the podcast:

      Kind regards,
      – Kevin

  5. Nooo! Kevin your blog helped a lot of people, me included, get through MTM in prior years. Thank you for that. I too wonder if any real mainframe sites are using VS Code and Zowe.
    Anyway thanks again, and we’ll miss you this year..

    1. Hi TRS80

      Thanks for being here and commenting. I really miss making blogposts and I can’t wait to get back once I find a topic which makes me want to write.

      I’m hoping next year’s master the mainframe will catch my attention 🙂

      Kind regards,
      – Kevin

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