Digital transformation: What about the mainframe?

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders to share their opinions and insights on current technology trends to the IBM Systems IT Infrastructure blog. The opinions in these posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM.

Digital transformation infuses digital technology into all areas of an organization’s business or mission. Its fundamental purpose is to create and deliver innovative and industry-changing digital products and services to a global customer base. By doing this, an enterprise gains an ability to quickly act and react to changing data, operational conditions and competitive strategies in a manner that supports rapid attainment of the organization’s goals.

A survey of 2,000 executives conducted by Cognizant in 2016 identified the top five ways digital transformation generates value:

  • Accelerating speed to market
  • Strengthening competitive positioning
  • Boosting revenue growth
  • Raising employee productivity; and
  • Expanding the ability to acquire, engage and retain customers

Digital transformation also changes the enterprise IT environment from exclusive data centers to one that also includes managed services and hybrid cloud computing. One of the key challenges with this, however, is the question: where does the mainframe fit?

Read more stories of digital transformation and see what it takes to add your own story

Interestingly, two additional key challenges businesses face in their transformation to take advantage of cloud is their need to match the data protection and privacy and the resiliency of their on-premises infrastructure. The good news is that this makes the mainframe question very easy to answer.

Mainframes fit EVERYWHERE! With their unmatched data protection and privacy and the ability to deliver near constant uptime, IBM Z enterprise platforms solve all three challenges.

  • Banks process enormous volumes of transactions. Investment banks prioritize high-frequency trading and need to react instantaneously to changes in financial markets. In both cases, IT leaders rely on a platform that delivers the scale and instant growth that commodity servers just can’t.
  • Insurance companies use data to assess risk, set prices, and guide their investments.
  • In healthcare, organizations trust this platform to ensure regulatory compliance, and deliver highly available data storage, data protection and data privacy.
  • Government agencies depend on the data management capabilities. The analysis of their data is used to drive national and international policies.
  • Airlines, government regulators and aircraft manufacturers are dependent to ensure aviation safety and efficiency.
  • Retailers process large volumes of transactions and this technology capability is in even more in demand as the retailing industry transitions from brick and mortar to online.

the ibm mainframe in the data centerAs for the culture question, humans are creatures of habit. If they aren’t forced to change, they will remain complacent within the familiar bounds of constraints. IT leaders must embrace new directions for continuous improvement across heterogeneous IT environments that include and interact with the mainframe serving as an integral workflow component for mission-critical applications and data. Culture change will also require modern application development tools that make the analysis, editing and building of complex programs easier – and today’s IBM Z uses the same tools and skills as other open platforms.

Mainframes are still foundational to your business, so your organization’s digital transformation must include them as your secure, resilient and agile platform for mission-critical data and apps. Digitally transforming your IT infrastructure will include:

  • Continuing to ensure exceptionally high levels of data protection and privacy while meeting business requirements to move data at will;
  • Integrating processes through centralized management and orchestration across a hybrid multicloud environment
  • Implementing modern workloads like artificial intelligence and blockchain
  • Meeting the high levels of cloud-based redundancy with even higher levels of mainframe-based resiliency for delivering business continuity to mission-critical workloads without incurring unexpected and unplanned additional cost; and
  • Squeezing in even more data while simultaneously reducing the cost of managing that same data.

All of these operational requirements should be part of your future strategy. As you contemplate your organization’s next digital transformation move, make sure you fully exploit today’s IBM Z!

Read the IDC report: The Next Frontier for the Mainframe and discover insights into the future of the mainframe