September 10, 2020 By Hervé Sabrie 3 min read

The IBM mainframe remains a widely used enterprise computing workhorse, hosting essential IT for the majority of the world’s top banks, airlines, insurers and more. As the mainframe continues to evolve, the newest IBM Z® servers offer solutions for AI and analytics, blockchain, cloud, DevOps, security and resiliency, with the aim of making the client experience similar to that of using cloud services.

Many organizations today face challenges with their core IT infrastructure:

  • Complexity and stability: An environment might have years of history and be seen as too complex to maintain or update. Problems with system stability can impact operations and be considered a high risk for the business.
  • Workforce challenges: Many data center teams are anticipating a skills shortage within the next 5 years due to a retiring and declining workforce specialized in the mainframe, not to mention the difficulty of attracting new talent.
  • Total cost of ownership: Some infrastructure solutions are seen as too expensive, and it’s not always easy to balance up-front costs with the life expectancy and benefits of a given platform.
  • Lack of speed and agility: Older applications can be seen as too slow and monolithic as organizations face an increasing need for faster turnaround and release cycles.

Some software vendors suggest addressing these challenges with the “big bang” approach of moving your entire environment to public cloud. But public cloud isn’t the best option for every workload, and a hybrid multicloud approach can offer the best of both worlds. IBM Z is constantly being developed to address the real challenges businesses today face, and every day we’re helping clients modernize their IT environments.

There are 4 strategic elements to consider when modernizing your mainframe environment:

  • Infrastructure
  • Applications
  • Data access
  • DevOps chain

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  1. Infrastructure modernization
    Most IBM clients’ mainframe systems are operating on the latest IBM Z hardware, but some are using earlier systems. The first step in updating your mainframe environment is adopting the newest features that can help you get the most from your infrastructure. Many technical innovations were introduced in IBM z15. This platform has been engineered to encrypt data everywhere, provide for cloud-native development and offer a high level of stability and availability so workloads can run continuously.
  2. Application modernization
    Core system applications — implemented as monolithic applications — form the backbone of many enterprises’ IT. The key characteristic of these monolithic applications is the hyper integration of the main components of the application, which makes it difficult to understand and update them. Modernizing your mainframe applications starts with creating a map to identify which apps should follow a modularization process and which should be refactored. This implies working on APIs and microservices for better integration of the mainframe with other IT systems and often redefining the business rules. You might also move some modules or applications to the cloud using containerization.
  3. Data access modernization
    For years, some businesses have chosen to move their sensitive data off IBM Z to platforms that include data lakes and warehouses for analytics processing. Modern businesses need actionable and timely insight from their most current data; they can’t afford the time required to copy and transform data. To address the need for actionable insights from data in real time and the cost of the security exposures due to data movement off the mainframe, IBM Z offers modern data management solutions, such as production data virtualization, production data replication in memory, and data acceleration for data warehouse and machine learning solutions.
  4. DevOps chain modernization
    The pressure to develop, debug, test, release and deploy applications quickly is increasing. IT teams that don’t embrace DevOps are slower to deliver software and less responsive to the business’s needs. IBM Z can help clients learn how to modernize through new DevOps tools and processes to create a lean and agile DevOps pipeline from modern source-code management to the provisioning of environments and the deployment of the artifacts.

If you want a deeper dive into these 4 strategic areas, please contact us for our full-length point-of-view paper or to request more information about consulting with IBM Garage on your next IT project. IBM Systems infrastructure experts in IBM Garage have helped many organizations around the world to update their mainframe environments and explore IT solutions to help their businesses grow.

This point of view was developed by IBM Z and LinuxONE experts from IBM Garage, including Guillaume Arnould, Guillaume Hoareau, Herve Sabrie, Sebastien Llaurency and Yann Kindelberger.

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