February 23, 2023 By Kathryn Guarini 3 min read

Exploring the crucial role of IBM zSystems in IBM’s hybrid cloud environment.

Sometimes peers in the industry talk about “getting off the mainframe” or question whether the enduring IBM zSystems platform continues to provide differentiated value to their businesses. Public clouds, edge solutions and distributed technologies all play an important role as part of a hybrid cloud environment. Nevertheless, IBM zSystems remains essential to many large-scale enterprise IT environments—and certainly to IBM’s own—as it delivers the performance, resilience, security, sustainability and efficiency required for business-critical workloads.

Here, I’ll dispel some myths and clarify the important role that IBM zSystems plays in IBM’s hybrid cloud environment today and for the future.

Myth: The mainframe is no longer core to IBM’s own enterprise IT portfolio or strategy

Truth: The IBM zSystems platform plays a central role in our hybrid cloud strategy, and at IBM, we are massive users of the platform today. This is not just because we manufacture and sell zSystems, but because it is simply the best platform for the job. We run nearly 600 applications with at least one component on IBM zSystems, including more than 65% of all financially significant applications. Critical quote-to-cash, finance and HR applications run on z/OS, z/VM and Linux on zSystems. These include IBM’s integrated enterprise resource planning (iERP) solution, our global credit system, our accounting information warehouse, our global logistics system and our common ledger system.

Myth: The mainframe is expensive

Truth: The total cost of ownership (TCO) of applications running on IBM zSystems can be lower than moving to other platforms given the high utilization, long lifetime and backward compatibility of the platform. Using a technology business management (TBM) approach, we are actively demonstrating that applications running on zSystems can have lower TCO, better performance and improved security in a modern operating environment. As many of our clients have also experienced, using existing capacity on IBM zSystems also helps reduce public cloud expense. Plus, we’re combining that with “intelligent workload placement,” moving containerized application workloads across architectures to optimize performance, sustainability and cost. This is the essence of a modern, efficient hybrid cloud.

Myth: Modern applications don’t run on the mainframe

Truth: Modern applications run on IBM zSystems securely, cost effectively and with energy efficiency. Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Enterprise Linux on IBM zSystems—together with continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines and Infrastructure as Code—make it an attractive and modern environment that leverages agile developer skill sets.

Myth: If “cloud” is the destination, we should move applications off the mainframe

Truth: No! As part of any hybrid cloud environment, application workloads need to be in the best place for the operating requirements that balance dimensions like sustainability, performance, agility, reliability and cost. Infrastructure as Code, transparent operating system patching with no application downtime, increased security, improved reliability and lower environmental impacts are just some areas where IBM zSystems excels. Add to this CI/CD pipelines for applications on IBM zSystems, and it looks a lot like what’s being done on other cloud architectures.

Myth: We need specialized and antiquated skills to use the mainframe

Truth: Modern tools reduce the need for specialized skills to support legacy technologies that are still used by some business applications. In fact, modern technologies and tools like Python, YAML, Java, Kubernetes and Ansible all run on IBM zSystems. Skills for these are needed across our team (and the industry) to ensure common development approaches fully leverage the power of IBM zSystems. These modern skills, combined with the industry-leading capabilities of the platform, allow for all the benefits expected of a key component of a modern hybrid cloud operating environment.

Myth: The mainframe is old

Truth: Do you consider a 2023 Ferrari old? Me neither. While a hallmark of the IBM mainframe is backward compatibility, the latest generation IBM z16—and IBM LinuxONE 4 for Linux-only environments—is packed with every latest innovation you can imagine. These include an embedded AI processor, pervasive encryption and quantum-safe cryptography. Today’s IBM zSystems have the performance, availability and security trusted by banks, insurance companies, airline reservation systems and retailers worldwide for their proven transaction processing capability and resilience.

Learn more about IBM zSystems

Let me be clear: IBM zSystems is, and will continue to be, a first-class citizen in IBM’s hybrid cloud environment. It provides the modern, differentiated capabilities we need along with unique qualities of service with a competitive TCO, making it a strong value proposition for IBM and our clients.

Check out our page to learn more about IBM zSystems.

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