Mainframes

3 paradigm shifts for IT operations on IBM Z to support digital enterprise

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Good news! IBM Z is perfectly equipped to be at the center of your digital enterprise; 80 percent of corporate structured data and 55 percent of all enterprise transactions reside on IBM Z with only 6.2 percent of total corporate server expenditure[1]. It is the only platform capable of encryption of 100 percent of your data, 100 percent of the time, and it has superior load and availability characteristics.

With ever-faster changes to workloads, the complexity of hybrid cloud architectures, an aging workforce and the constant pressure to lower costs, IT operations practices of yesterday will no longer cut it. The good news is that many companies have taken the effective means to modernize their core systems on IBM Z, with amazing results. IDC found that companies modernizing their core systems on average had a 300 percent return on investment with a 10-month time period to break even. As part of this modernization to support your digital enterprise, IT operations on IBM Z need to go through 3 paradigm shifts:

1. Make changes safe and cost-effective

One of the means by which IT operations on IBM Z have been successful in ensuring the operational integrity of workloads is by minimizing change. Especially for a digital enterprise, software IS the business, and to stay competitive your company needs to evolve software rapidly. While a company’s initial journey towards becoming a digital enterprise often centers on innovation around systems of engagement, the focus is increasingly shifting from customer engagement to innovation around core business processes as well. These business processes are overwhelmingly encoded into your systems of record on IBM Z. Resisting or slowing down change can make your company less competitive. Since there can be no compromise to the operational integrity of your system, proven practices need to be adopted to enable rapid changes without compromising the integrity of your workloads. The good news is that these practices exist, and leaders are adopting them.

2. Manage visibility into hybrid applications

Every business capability today cuts across platforms. Lines of businesses rightfully demand visibility into and set service-level agreements (SLAs) for these hybrid applications. This has led to rapidly growing adoption of application performance management solutions such as IBM Cloud APM and AppDynamics, as well as IT operations analytics solutions such as Splunk and ELK.  IT operations teams need to continue to adopt these APM and IT Operations Analytics solutions. Until recently, these solutions had a major weakness, though. While they could tell you that a transaction that originated on a mobile device was running into problems on IBM Z, IBM Z was a black box, providing these solutions no visibility into whether the problem resides with MQ, CICS, DB2, IMS or any other subsystem, delaying responses and making it hard to meet SLAs. In a future blog post I will discuss the art of the possible for visibility into your hybrid applications, helping you to meet SLAs while reducing cost.

3. Empower operations with analytics

Hybrid applications are increasingly complex, and digital workloads are unpredictable – for example, mobile users can drive sudden spikes in volume. Meanwhile, younger people enter the workforce as older people retire, creating a skills and productivity problem. IT operations analytics can help address these issues. Insights can enable experienced and inexperienced people alike to rapidly identify emerging problems with root cause analysis, and promising work around machine learning helps to predict problems before they occur. While IBM prototyping with select customers indicates that a majority of outages for an individual subsystem can be detected before they occur, the reality is that broad-based and industry-mature solutions are still emerging. In a future blog post I will discuss this issue and invite customers to join us on this exciting journey towards predictive analytics.

To aid customers with the above three transformations, as well as to transform how they develop and architect software on IBM Z, we created the IBM Digital Transformation Model for IBM Z. Throughout this blog post series, I will reference this model to explain how it can aid also in your company’s digital transformation.

[1] https://www.ibm.com/investor/att/pdf/IBM-Mainframe_Webcast.pdf

Director - IBM Z Management and Ops Analytics

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