How cloud-enabled mainframes can help your business embrace digital transformation

By Mark Samuels

If you've built your business on the mainframe, cloud-enabled mainframes might be the smartest and only foundation for your digital transformation. Though the cloud represents the future of technology provision, the mainframe remains key to your present operational activities. Your business cannot afford to give up its investment in mainframe technology — and it shouldn't have to. Thankfully, help is at hand, and your business can use cloud-enabled mainframes to make the most of its existing systems in a digital era.

Going on-demand undoubtedly creates benefits for your business. The cloud helps IT professionals deliver fast, iterative innovation on behalf of the rest of the business. Such benefits explain why increased amounts of IT spend are being directed to the cloud, with worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure to reach $122.5 billion in 2017, an increase of 24.4 percent over 2016.

However, despite all its obvious positives, the cloud is far from the only game in town. Many organizations rely on mainframe technology, and many of your core business apps and processes are probably working on-premises, too. Though you understand the business clamor for digital transformation, you also recognize the crucial role played by your mainframe real estate.

For many organizations, mainframes remain the best place to host core applications. Though the cloud offers scalability and flexibility, the mainframe offers tried-and-tested reliability, performance and security. Mainframes have long been considered the paragon of security — and new ones like the IBM z14 take it even further — with 100 percent pervasive encryption. As the senior executive in your business responsible for technology, can you really afford to move fully away from the mainframe and endanger crucial business operations? The great news is that you don't have to if you implement a connected mainframe strategy.

Cloud-enabling your mainframe applications

The right strategy will allow your business to combine the benefits of your existing mainframe investments with the power of the cloud. By cloud-enabling mainframe systems, your organization can extend the life of born-in-the-enterprise production applications that run on your mainframe and remain crucial to everyday business operations.

Such modernization allows your business to ensure digital transformation doesn't negate existing investments in mainframe systems. The connected mainframe provides a strategy to ensure all systems and services are integrated, whether in-house or in the cloud. Existing investments are available in the cloud, meaning your business can use its mainframes to generate revenue growth, rather than simply support it.

Cloud enablement can support a move on demand while also helping your IT team modernize and enhance core mainframe systems. The business benefits of the strategy are also impressive: Early adopters of a connected mainframe strategy have achieved over a 300 percent ROI over five years. These adopters are generating additional revenue of almost $200 million per year.

In total, businesses with cloud-enabled mainframes produce 47 percent lower cost of operations over five years when compared to distributed environments. Users in these firms inevitably forget which elements are being run on-premises or in the cloud, and instead, benefit from higher levels of productivity. Across a five-year period, connected mainframe adopters boasted $30 million in business productivity improvements, $18 million in IT staff productivity bonuses and $8 million in savings through infrastructure cost reduction.

Facing the future with confidence

Cloud enablement means your business can make mission-critical legacy workloads key elements of its transformational journey. Of course, your business might have already decided to move away from mainframe technology. Though cloud enablement means mainframe systems no longer need to be viewed as a legacy that needs retiring, some organizations will be keen to move as close to being fully on-demand as possible.

For these businesses, a great cloud managed services provider can create a smooth transition and allow your firm to gain the benefits of cloud and mainframe without the capital expenses associated with born-in-the-enterprise IT. By using cloud managed services that run on a trusted vendor partner's mainframes, your business can run mission-critical workloads without investing in its own hardware.

If you want to continue driving digital transformations, the message is clear: Mainframe doesn't have to be a hindrance. By cloud-connecting your mainframe or tapping into cloud managed services on a mainframe, your business can combine the advantages of agility in the on-demand world with the production-quality confidence of on-premises systems.