April 5, 2022 By Dinesh Nirmal 4 min read

To stay competitive amidst labor shortages, supply chain challenges and customer service disruptions, companies have embarked on a massive digital shift.

This has helped to accelerate the digitization of their businesses, allowing them to interact with customers through digital channels to continue their business and quickly shift employees to work remotely.

But this rapid digitization has increased the complexity of IT environments as companies implement stopgap measures to ensure business continuity, resulting in disconnected systems and applications. According to an IDC report, over 50% of companies report having more than 100 business applications in their portfolio today.

These complexities are magnified in mainframe environments because of the transactional scale involved. Mainframes can process billions of transactions per day of the most mission-critical workloads, which is one reason major companies rely on mainframes for some of their most critical applications. In fact, 93% use mainframe for financial management and 73% use for customer transaction systems. These huge volumes of data, combined with labor shortages for critical IT roles, makes it challenging to integrate across hybrid environments and scale operations without modern tools and technology. 

How can companies achieve digital transformation given these challenges?

Today, we unveiled IBM® z16™. This next-generation system provides a range of new capabilities related to intelligent automation, designed to bring business value and agility to clients. I believe clients utilize the IBM zSystems platform for their workloads because of its security, cyber resiliency and performance.

IBM zSystems can help provide transformation with speed and cost effectiveness not possible with manual processes by applying enterprise-wide automation at scale.

IBM brings together IBM zSystems with AI-powered automation software to help increase the value that each provides. There are three key areas where IBM Automation software and IBM zSystems have come together to help clients achieve digital transformation:

1. End-to-end observability

DevOps teams using common Application Performance Management (APM) tools don’t have full visibility into the IBM z16 portions of hybrid cloud applications, making it hard to identify, analyze and resolve problems when they arise. 

IBM Observability by Instana APM provides a native IBM z/OS capability that unlocks an integrated mobile-to-mainframe monitoring experience. Instana automatically identifies Z-specific resources, delivering insights for SRE or DevOps teams to identify where slowdowns originate on the mainframe that impact application performance, designed to reduce the cost and risk of downtime.    

IBM intends to deliver support for the deployment and execution of the Instana platform on Linux on IBM zSystems, helping to improve application performance management on public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, on-premises and IBM zSystems. IBM intends to further enhance IBM Observability by Instana APM by integrating metrics sourced directly from IBM zSystems OMEGAMON. Users will be able to review key performance indicators on IBM z/OS-based resources within the context of their hybrid applications, helping to identify and isolate potential problems and minimizing the impact on application performance and availability. 

2. Integration

Managing an ever-expanding set of on-premises systems, multiple public clouds, private clouds, SaaS apps and more can add additional pressure to already stretched IT organizations. Integration is the fabric powering the movement of data between applications to ensure businesses run smoothly. Cost-effective, reusable, scalable integrations are, therefore, important for enabling companies to create new business value at speed and scale.

IBM delivers key capabilities to ensure IBM zSystems are flexibly connected at the heart of enterprises, unlocking real-time data for new solutions being delivered across a hybrid, multi-cloud environment.

IBM MQ is engineered to provide the ability to transport critical enterprise data on IBM zSystems to new solutions being developed on multiple clouds for delivery at scale while still focusing on security, resilience or performance. New in Q2 for IBM MQ is the addition of queue-specific statistics to provide finer-grained details to IBM Z Anomaly Analytics, positioning businesses to automate the detection of abnormalities and deviations from normal operations. This may allow businesses to proactively act and minimize critical issues. Also new in Q2, IBM Observability by Instana Application Performance Monitoring on z/OS is enhanced to include MQ support, allowing application tracing of common MQ patterns, providing operational visibility for rapid diagnosis of application issues.

IBM also provides a consistent experience for discovering and using APIs with IBM API Connect on IBM zSystems alongside APIs for other systems, so critical applications and data on IBM z16 can be accessed enterprise-wide. Finally, IBM App Connect provides an enhanced ability to connect critical business systems on IBM zSystems across hybrid environments by deploying close to the core processing. This allows high-performance solutions to perform transformation, consume events and work with file data while protecting critical processing.

3. Predictive decisions

Many IBM z/OS enterprises have large investments in applications that they rely on to run their business. After many years in existence and multiple changes, these apps can often be highly complex and tightly coupled with data and other applications — but they are well tested and critical to the business. 

Decision management software externalizes business logic (for example, eligibility requirements in banking or a discount amount in retail) from code so business users can implement decision policies and test and execute changes without disrupting application code. This frees IT teams to focus on revenue-generating activities rather than time-consuming, ongoing maintenance. Organizations can become more responsive, more efficient and more transparent in their decision making.

IBM Operational Decision Manager for z/OS is designed to optimize runtime options for integration with IBM z/OS applications to help ensure operational decisions:

  • Are easy to author, change and execute in real-time at high scale while adhering to documented policies and regulations
  • Are deployed consistently, whether on Cloud, in a distributed environment or in a native IBM z/OS environment with COBOL or PL/I; CICS, IMS and IBM z/OS batch applications
  • Apply predictive insights from operational data (including native IBM z/OS applications) to improve the quality of business decisions
  • Are integrated into intelligent workflows that span the entire organization 

How to get started

We can help you automate the right way so that both your IBM zSystems and software investments can deliver on their potential to drive digital transformation, agility, efficiency and top-level business outcomes. IBM offers a free, personalized Automation Innovation Workshop featuring automation thought leaders and distinguished engineers from across IBM. In this workshop, we share industry insights, identify how automation can address your top pain points and co-create an actionable plan to deliver required business outcomes from your automation initiatives based on IBM’s proven methods and best practices.

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