Infrastructure is your advantage, legacy systems your secret weapon


To succeed in the app economy you don’t need to start again. Instead, leverage and integrate existing assets with new platforms and resources.

LittleBlogAuthorGraphic  David Hodgson, August 18, 2014

In today’s competitive landscape your infrastructure can work for or against you. To get the speed and agility you want, you must have the tools in place to help you truly understand, plan, manage and control your physical, virtual, on-premise and cloud infrastructure to deliver business services through software and applications. In my work, we refer to the infrastructure and processes that enable the application economy as the the Dynamic Data Center (DDC).

I recently started a four-part series on to how to best navigate on your journey into the application economy drawing allusions with my daily walk to work and back. In the first part of this series I introduced four principles and here I expand on the second – your infrastructure is your greatest advantage and your legacy systems are your secret weapon.

Like any successful journey, to get good velocity you must have a well-defined destination, route and an idea of the obstacles you may meet on the way. On my daily walk to work I know its best to walk on the outside of the sidewalk for speed, and if I want to stay dry when it is raining, it’s best to hug the storefronts for cover.

Borderless realm

Of course it is not that simple for your IT organization. The DDC means that the realm IT now has to manage is borderless. It is no longer the static, “glass-house” data center of a by-gone era. It stretches from mobile device to the mainframe and includes SaaS applications, mobile devices and on-premise CICS transactions.

Applications for larger companies nearly always have a multi-tier, cross-platform architecture. The key to success is leveraging the assets you currently have and integrating them with the new platforms and resources. You can start with the business requirements for the application or business service, and decide on the right infrastructure to achieve the goals.

Agile DDC

You also must understand that in today’s DDC, yesterday’s solution may be different from today’s (and tomorrow’s) solution. Let me share a couple of the things that come to my mind when I think about this.

The CA Cloud Storage for System z allows businesses to seamlessly take advantage of Amazon’s storage of archived data on physical mainframe tapes or a Virtual Tape System (VTS). The change is transparent to the application — the kind of agility you need in the DDC.

By leveraging new cloud services on a public cloud like Amazon or a private cloud like NetApp and DataDomain, we can “normalize” the mainframe. In operational terms, this means making a core asset more useful by extending its life and making it easier to manage. In fiscal terms, this means normalizing the cost of running the mainframe to increase the asset’s ROI.

System z can also run Linux as a server consolidation play. Many companies have under-used capacity on their Integrated Facilities for Linux (IFLs). Workloads can run there inexpensively and efficiently with all the usual savings of a server consolidation exercise, but with greater security and Reliability, Availability, and Service (RAS) benefits. Although adoption has been slow, it continues to increase – I am constantly talking with companies that are considering Linux on the mainframe or expanding their capability there.

Out of the box

On your walk through the application economy be prepared to think out of the box, but allow for the idea that you may need to leverage what you have already where you can. Have the agility needed to make tomorrow’s solution different from the past, but don’t assume that means starting fresh.

Also, ensure your infrastructure serves the needs of your business and adapt it by recombining, reconnecting and reimagining with the parts you have, even as you add others. The DDC will work for you when you know clearly where you are going, what your destination is and how you might achieve it by various routes.

Once again, I’ve successfully arrived at 53rd Street. Time to get some work done. After reading this, I hope that you are equipped for the journey to your destination.

In the meantime, if you’ve been thinking about how apps affect your business or rolling them out across your org, leave me a comment below. This is a brave new world of IT and we can all learn together.


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