I had the opportunity recently to visit the zITA Boot Camp and speak with a community of Architects who watch over the mainframe or Enterprise Systems world. For those of you who don't know, zITAs are the System z IT Architect community in IBM. These are the guys who advise and guide the largest institutions as they keep the big systems evolving to meet current business initiatives with the appropriate technologies. Now I am not saying that there was not a few missing or grey hairs in residence, but there was a nice mix of what some HR folks might call 'vitality' representatives as well. While this community knows the intricacies of where virtual storage and channel commands started from, they were discussing developments that ranged from best fit and use of workloads across platforms, futures of zEnterprise capabilities, and guiding IT leaders on strategies for decisions based on Total Cost of Ownership based on the full range of use and expenditure categories that real clients experience. .
These folks are really the Trusted Advisors we hear about, the technical conscience overseeing change in our Enterprise Clients. While they were being vetted on topics from future extensions to current technologies, they were also looking at application in spaces such as Cloud, Industry specific frameworks and solutions, and the next stage of low level integration across component boundaries using open technologies to accelerate and increase options across technology providers that can give more options for solution innovation.
As at any meeting or conference of this type, the conversations at breaks and meals are often some of the best. These are not individuals who are stuck in the quagmire of detail without a clue to what is going on with the business side at their clients. I heard conversations that included topics such as: how can we better understand industry trends our clients are dealing with, how can we help our customers better link IT and LOB initiatives so they are more effective and valuable once implemented, and what lessons can we leverage from other fields such as negotiation and the legal system to better communicate across disparate technical communities?
Sure, these guys know their availability strategies, but they also know what is going on with Web 3.0 and Linked Data, Economic and Risk Models of the Cloud Infrastructure, and what changes in compliance legislation might mean for reporting strategies and the systems behind them.
Who better to have guiding our largest and best institutions? Thank you zITAs.
Enterprise Class Innovation: System z Perspectives
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z Growing: In the recent z/Journal I noted some impressive numbers for growth as shared by Bob Thomas on the publisher's page. In just the fourth quarter of last year, MIPS grew by an amazing 58% (the highest growth in a decade) and sales grew by 70% in the same period. zEnterprise systems pushed over 450 shipments representing 1.5 million MIPS. Whoa... no editorializing needed there, right?
GUI GUI everywhere... I was talking with some folks in a session about the new interfaces for development (RDz and IDE vs ISPF and lovely green screens) and the enhancements with sysprog, sorry systems programmer, tools with z/OS Management Facility and it made me flash back to when, in the late 70s, we worked with a customer to demo a function where you could actually start to put customized screens in color on ISPF. It was a pretty exciting thing-- that unfortunately went nowhere between the novelty, customization, and the fact that despite multiple run throughs ahead of time, the demo ran into (ahem) unforeseen technical difficulties. BUT the point was just the idea of color something we all agreed would be nice someday. Heck, even the 3290 gas panel display with its pretty orange characters was enough variety to get many speculating. (I mean come on, color TV only broadcast around 1967, right?)
..and Smarter everywhere... This all made me think about how we are simultaneously getting further away from our systems while interacting with them more intensely all the time. With phones and iPads with touch screens the distance and links in the chain is longer than ever and yet the response and interaction is greater too. In a matter of minutes I have watched a demo where a CICS transaction gets enabled with EGL and modern tooling from Rational to expose a banking application on an iPhone. Between CICS events, Webshere process engines, and appliances like DataPower, or ILOG rules engines, the options for dynamic interactions in flight are now astounding. Change a business rule, a process, a partner or supplier and it is not 2 years of waterfall development and testing, it can be moments. It is not just intelligent and instrumented devices as part of a smarter planter that are interconnected, there has been a lot happening back at the old IT shop too! Don't forget those web transactions have at least as many CICS transactions to match them every day (around 30 Billion the last someone looked at it a few years ago). And yes, most of the data is still back home in the datacenter for enterprises-- and moving there more daily with private clouds too. So go and play, do real work, whatever.... don't worry, we (z and enterprise systems) got it covered behind the scenes.