Mainframes are here to stay and are more relevant than ever before in the application economy – so it’s time your business thought about “reframing the mainframe”.
David Hodgson, October 19, 2015
Too often in a haste to rush towards the future, we easily eschew what we did in the past. But as companies race towards an increasingly connected world where customers are more demanding than ever, there’s a machine in the background, underpinning the business and driving some of the most important apps we use every day on our smartphones. That’s right, folks it’s the mainframe.
Mainframes are here to stay — after all, millions of lines of COBOL code continue to run the most important business applications in the world. That’s why we need to reframe the way we think about the mainframe.
In fact these days, mainframes are expected to do far more — from providing easy data access for big data projects to supporting cloud and mobility. The specialized skill sets required by the mainframe team are becoming even scarcer and most IT departments are under pressure to keep costs down.
That’s where reframing the mainframe comes in. Recognizing that success in the application economy will require investment in the mainframe and that the investment will directly grow your business. The rise of mobile-to-mainframe applications is a key driver here.
The mainframe at play in the application economy
In my first blog post in this series, 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.
And in my second blog post, I talked about how the customer is always right — so 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, including Linux on z Systems.
The three largest banks in the U.S. already have 50 million customers using mobile banking — and that adoption rate is growing at a rate of 15 percent annually. Even checking your bank balance on a mobile phone requires hits back onto the critical transaction-processing component of the data center.
To connect mobile-to-mainframe apps, developers need processes and tools that span the divide. This helps to speed up time to market and improves quality with software change management.
Past legacy equals future innovation
Moving forward, the most successful organizations will evolve from supporting legacy business processes to driving innovation.
How will they do this? They’ll develop applications exploiting mobile-to-mainframe architectures that are managed as a whole, not within silos, allowing greater visibility into operations and performance.
This empowers IT staff to perform tasks and access relevant information to accelerate service delivery. Workloads can be more easily orchestrated to run on the best-suited server — the cloud, distributed or mainframe — and data is transformed into insights to drive opportunities.
Learning to become Agile
And it’s already happening. The proportion of professionals with four or more years of Agile adoption at their firms has increased significantly, according to analysts. Many teams are already leveraging core Agile practices: 20 percent are using Agile from ideation to deployment (including DevOps), while 51 percent are using Agile in the upstream.
“Behavioral change is the biggest barrier to adoption; properly skilled business product owners are also a big impediment for Agile adoption success,” according to analysts. “Organizations are finally realizing that the lack of cross-functional teams is one of the top impediments for successful Agile adoption.”
Managing mainframe costs as a strategic asset
What we often hear from customers is that it’s hard to justify the cost of their mainframe platform. Mainframes, however, can be managed as a strategic asset that creates value — if you create mainframe platform flexibility for the future.
According to analysts, the top three benefits of becoming Agile are better business and IT alignment, faster delivery of solutions and more opportunities for midcourse corrections.
The right testing tools can help you deliver higher-quality applications faster, while keeping costs under control. Integrated Application Quality and Testing Tools from CA Technologies, for example, are designed to help you test, diagnose and fix problems in mainframe applications quickly — before issues affect application performance.
By reframing the mainframe and connecting mobile-to-mainframe applications, you can reduce costs, improve efficiency and reallocate resources to more strategic business initiatives. You’ll maximize what you already have, while integrating new service offerings — turning your mainframe platform into a competitive differentiator with potential new revenue streams.