How to run the mainframe of the future


Customer demands are putting new pressures on all areas of IT, including the mainframe. Linux on the mainframe is nothing new but it could just be the key to teaching an old dog new tricks.

LittleBlogAuthorGraphic  David Hodgson, September 17, 2015

I’m sure at some point you’ve walked into a store or a restaurant and seen a sign that says, “The customer is always right.” If you think about it for a minute, how many times has the establishment you’re dealing with proven this wrong? Probably more often than you’d like. And how did you vote? With your feet (and word of mouth) most likely.

Well, in the application economy, things have just got a lot more interesting. The customer is not only always right they also have the power to determine how a company is going wrong. We’re living in an era where the customer is more pivotal to the success of a business than ever before.

In my last blog post, I talked about the curse and blessing of connectedness for the mainframe in the application economy. It’s this same connectedness that is empowering customers like never before.

In a white paper that I recently authored, “Mainframe Reframed for the Application Economy,” I discussed the challenges of customers driving change in the application economy. Because customers are more likely to interact with a business through their app than a person, they can’t afford (literally) to get it wrong. One estimate suggests that a quarter of users will abandon an app within a three second delay.

In order to meet this new level of customer demand, businesses have had to provide new levels of transparency, availability and reliability like never before. With this transformation, comes new pressures on all areas of IT, including the mainframe platform, apps and back-end systems it hosts.

The open mainframe of the future

That’s why it’s incumbent on mainframers to create flexibility for the mainframe platform of the future. The interplay between cloud and the mainframe has presented new opportunities for the mainframe, including Linux on z Systems. Linux on the mainframe – tell me something new you say – I know.

Making the mainframe more accessible than ever before

The Open Mainframe Project, a collaborative effort coordinated by the Linux Foundation, which CA is a founding Platinum sponsor of, to grow Linux on the mainframe, will open up driving the direction to a broader community.

In addition, the launch of IBM LinuxONE – a portfolio of hardware, software and services solutions for the enterprise – will make the Linux platform on the mainframe more accessible.

Addressing the barriers to adoption

In the past, three main barriers to adoption of Linux on the mainframe were:

  • Use of proprietary IBM hypervisor (z/VM) for virtualization
  • Lack of support for open source components

The announcement of LinuxONE addresses all three of these barriers by allowing IT to deploy Linux on KVM, use the more common open source components, and most importantly for any business decision maker, to avoid the high initial cost of a mainframe by adding usage based pricing.

The bigger picture

CA, along with leading industry counterparts and academic institutions are platinum founding members of the Open Mainframe Project. The aim is to use Linux’s strengths in Big Data, mobile processing, cloud computing and virtualization to advance mainframe Linux tools and technologies and increase enterprise innovation.

The focus areas of the project address some of the key challenges organizations are facing when it comes to the sheer volume of transactions and data they’re dealing with in their data centers. These include scalability, reliability, performance and security.

So unless you want to be cursed with negative customer feedback, start to discover the blessings hidden in these new opportunities for the mainframe to meet and exceed customer demand.

The sign stating the obvious about the customer being right may not be hung up in a virtual sense, but it should always be in the back of companies’ minds as they increasingly have less and less physical interaction with their customers.

Join us at CA World 2015

If you want to learn more about new innovations on the mainframe and how to create great customer experiences join us at CA World 2015, November 16-20, 2015 in Las Vegas where we’ll be hosting a panel discussion on the Open Mainframe initiative and much more. Click here for the CA World Mainframe Session Guide.

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