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Lessons learned: How IBM Global Financing tackles application modernization with Red Hat OpenShift

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IBM is like many of its clients when it comes to application modernization. The company faces the same challenges of trying to balance preserving the business value of established investments while remaining agile enough to respond to changing market demands.

Within IBM Global Financing, the financing arm that provides leases and loans to IBM clients and business partners, IBM is always looking for ways to modernize its own portfolio of mission-critical applications. Each application is periodically evaluated to determine how best to evolve, whether it’s a large mainframe application with up to 20 million lines of code or a newer web-based application.

IBM Global Financing thought it had its transformation plan mapped out. However, the advent of Red Hat OpenShift allowed the group to accelerate its plans.

Live and in production in just over one month

With the IBM acquisition of Red Hat in July 2019, several IBM Global Financing squads began experimenting with Red Hat OpenShift to accelerate modernization efforts.

Just over one month later (including two weeks of testing), IBM Global Financing went live with its first application using Red Hat OpenShift on IBM Cloud. The new application, called IBM Global Financing Concierge, is a Watson Assistant-based chatbot that serves up information from back-end heritage systems to help IBM Global Financing employees answer client questions and make decisions with greater speed and accuracy.

A key differentiator of the new Red Hat OpenShift environment is the concept of self-service, which enables developers to put their tested code directly into production. Prior to using Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Global Financing had a complex deployment process involving multiple IBM teams. Now, the development team has full authority to deploy new code end to end.

The quick success with the Watson Assistant chatbot spawned ideas to scale Red Hat OpenShift more broadly across the IBM Global Financing portfolio. IBM Global Financing formed a Red Hat Think Tank to bring together IBM Global Financing architects from around the world who had deep knowledge of the IBM application portfolio, and challenged them to figure out the patterns and migration paths to take advantage of Red Hat OpenShift.

Three lessons learned from adopting Red Hat OpenShift

Using Red Hat OpenShift enabled IBM Global Financing to accelerate in three important ways.

  1. Scalability: IBM Global Financing, like many other parts of IBM, gets massive surges at the end of every quarter. Prior to Red Hat OpenShift, IBM Global Financing had to employ manual efforts to ensure its infrastructure could handle these surges. With Red Hat OpenShift, applications are automatically scaled up or down based on user volumes. IBM Global Financing is able to dynamically scale the performance of its applications to handle surge volume.
  2. Resiliency: If there are problems with the IT infrastructure, Red Hat OpenShift can adjust by dynamically spawning extra containers that enable applications to continue to function without any down time.
  3. Uptime: Red Hat OpenShift has allowed IBM Global Financing to eliminate the eight to 12-hour maintenance windows. Instead of employees scrambling to make deployments work during a weekend, they can apply a blue-green strategy and seamlessly deploy without disrupting users.

The results: Accelerating the application modernization journey

Since July, the IBM Global Financing team has modernized four assets on Red Hat OpenShift and it plans to complete two more by the end of the year. The team will be using modern web front-end applications to tap into mainframe functions through APIs and microservices.

The IBM Global Financing team has accelerated the application modernization journey through the use of Red Hat OpenShift. In just a few months it has redefined the future of innovation across IBM Global Financing IT with Red Hat OpenShift as the model architecture. Learn how Red Hat OpenShift can benefit your business.

IBM Global Financing is the world’s largest IT captive IT financier with an asset base of over $41 billion. With clients in more than 60 countries, and expertise in IT financing, working capital and credit, IBM Global Financing offers flexible payment plans and leasing solutions for IBM software, services and IT infrastructure – including Red Hat OpenShift. Learn more about IBM Global Financing.

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