Empowering development productivity with easier and secure infrastructure

By | 4 minute read | September 26, 2019

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

Helping developers with their infrastructure needs and requirements has always been a top concern for enterprises. There is a significant loss of productivity when developers don’t have access to the required infrastructure, if the infrastructure is unreliable, or if a lack of configuration prevents teams from developing and testing code consistently.

Thus, enterprises with a large number of development teams seek to transform IT by delivering infrastructure agility at scale. Among other principles, agility at scale means that the infrastructure enables developers to code and test large scale big data, AI, IoT and blockchain applications. It also must simplify the effort developers invest in getting infrastructure ready and configuring it for development needs. After all, enterprises target developers to build innovative, scalable, reliable and secure applications, and spend less of their time on infrastructure tasks.

Over the last ten years, developing on public clouds emerged as a popular development infrastructure option, especially for smaller, nimbler development teams. Compute, storage and network configurations are delivered by cloud providers with a few clicks, and then can be automated using infrastructure as code tools. Development teams use continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) tools to automate their deployments and leverage serverless computing, elasticity and other cloud services to manage and scale application development infrastructure.

Beyond public cloud options for large scale development organizations

While there are plenty of opportunities to develop applications on the public cloud, they may not be the simplest, most efficient, or most secure option for large enterprises.

Using public clouds requires new skills and expertise to configure and secure development and test environments properly. Because businesses are competing for these skill sets and also have a significant need to deliver new applications, many development teams step up to fulfill gaps that their operating teams could not complete. In other words, developers began configuring infrastructure instead of coding and testing applications.

In my book Driving Digital, I called this out as a negative trend. I love developers and how they deliver new customer experiences and collaborative analytical tools to the enterprise. I want them learning business needs, developing scalable and secure code, and implementing the best testing and deployment practices that ensure applications are reliable in production environments. I want developers spending less (and ideally no time) on infrastructure.

As DevOps became a modern approach to bridging the culture and practices between agile development teams and infrastructure and operations teams, I called on operations to seize the day and take ownership of the operations, infrastructure and security practices needed for faster, scalable and secure enterprise development needs.

Hybrid multicloud development options that drive development productivity

Public cloud is no longer the only agile infrastructure option for development teams. Many applications today are hybrid and leverage microservices hosted on a mix of private and public cloud infrastructure.

When applications and microservices require scale and security from day one, then the IBM z15 with DS8900F storage is an option that enterprises should consider for developing and managing these workloads. At the IBM z15 launch event, I learned about several capabilities that address development productivity:

  • The IBM z15 supports cloud-native development using Red Hat OpenShift. According to an IBM sponsored study, this can cut time to market by 52 percent and scale for growth with 2.4 million Linux containers on a single system.
  • Its encryption-everywhere approach provides data privacy and security enforcement with off-platform access revocation, called IBM Data Privacy Passports. I saw Data Privacy Passports in action with a specialized JDBC driver used to enforce privacy as data is requested and used by applications whether they run on IBM z15 or other platforms–and even when the data is outside of your data center.
  • The impressive showcase of IBM Instant Recovery, the IBM z15 technology that automatically shifts compute resources to reduce the impact of planned and unplanned downtime.

The impact of these capabilities can be significant. IDC projects that modern mainframe hardware and software platforms can be used to deliver 64 percent more code releases with 43 percent less unplanned downtime and 96 percent less time to identify security breaches. They project a savings of $2.9M per mainframe over five years.

The actual benefits can be a lot more significant. Enterprises have harder requirements to secure data and instrument data privacy but must also consider development productivity and tactics to improve speed to market. Leveraging hybrid multicloud infrastructure that supports cloud native development, encryption everywhere, and IBM Z Instant Recovery can be a strategic approach to drive developer productivity, accelerate delivering new applications and enable new security and infrastructure reliability options.

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a service company that helps organizations drive smarter, faster, innovative transformation programs that deliver business results. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation through Technology which covers many practices such as agile, DevOps, product management, data science and culture change that are critical to successful digital transformation programs. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, an accomplished startup CTO,  keynote speaker,  digital transformation influencer and contributing editor at InfoWorldCIO.com and Social, Agile and Transformation.