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Staying Current Is Crucial for IBM Z

Priya Doty
Priya Doty, vice president, Product Marketing, IBM Z and LinuxONE // Photography by HollenderX2

To craft effective marketing campaigns requires an understanding of the technology. Taking the time to really dive in and gain an understanding is one piece of advice Priya Doty, vice president, Product Marketing, IBM Z* and LinuxONE*, offers young people interested in pursuing careers on the platform.

It’s advice she also gained from working with mentors throughout her 20-year tech career. Her trajectory took her from her early days as a systems consultant, implementing ERP software and then helping clients take advantage of e-commerce software. After gaining a Master of Business Administration degree at MIT Sloan, she took a product strategy position in the telecommunications industry, where she witnessed its transformation as the technology evolved from flip phones on CDMA to smartphones on 4G. She spent time at Ogilvy, an advertising agency, advising clients of all stripes on their brand and marketing strategies. From there, she accepted a role in product marketing with CA Technologies (now Broadcom), before moving into her current role at IBM.

“The most important advice I got from mentors along the way was to be aggressive about personal development, because the pace of business requires that we keep advancing our functional and technical skills to stay current,” Doty says. “This advice goes double for women in tech, especially at this moment in time. In this environment, to be credible, an organization must be able to show its ability to be diverse.”

As evidence of the increasing diversity in tech, she points to the fact that 40% of IBM Z sessions at the most recent IBM Think conference were given by women. “That’s a testament to the power of personal development, and technical leadership that women can achieve, when organizations are supportive of their development,” she adds.

How the IBM Z Platform Stays Current

Staying current is also why Doty believes IBM Z offers opportunity. “When you work with this platform, you get visibility into every topic current in IT: hardware, software, security, blockchain, cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), DevOps and more.” And then there’s scale. Today, clients run 30 billion transactions daily, which makes Google’s 3.5 billion daily searches pale in comparison.

Last year’s launch of the single-frame IBM Z (bit.ly/2ulj6WU) that fits into an industry-standard 19-inch data center rack was the most successful launch ever for IBM Z, according to IBM. And, it firmly entrenched the idea that mainframes could be a part of the cloud data center. The more recent announcement of IBM Cloud* Private, a platform that IBM uses for developing, building and deploying microservices-based applications, further adds modularity, making IBM Z a leading cloud platform.

The addition of the z/OS* Cloud Broker capability for IBM Cloud Private, announced at Think 2019, truly allows hybrid apps to be built with IBM Z, because it allows developers self-service access to z/OS computing resources. It also grants access to the z/OS service catalogs, meaning cloud developers no longer need specific expertise to access those resources. Cloud Broker creates connectivity from the z/OS environment to industry-standard Kubernetes container runtimes. This gives developers complete control over those resources with cloud-configurable security.

“This is a pretty compelling story for how IBM will help the Z client base working in a hybrid multicloud environment,” Doty says. “Everything that a Z client would need and all of the qualities of service that you have in a Z environment—whether it’s on-prem only or connecting into a cloud—you have access to all of that.”

Companies are taking note. The 2019 IDC Business Value Connected Mainframe study shows that over 73% of IBM Z clients:

  • Maintain a hybrid cloud or other cloud ecosystem
  • Develop applications for cross-platform development
  • Use APIs to connect into their IBM Z environment

Because IBM understands the critical need for security in hybrid multicloud environments, the company also announced at Think 2019 a new family of secure services for public cloud, called IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services. The first service, which developers can embed into their toolchains to enable higher levels of security, allows for “keep your own keys” encryption key protection. Underpinned by LinuxONE on the back end with a dedicated cloud hardware security module, IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services provide the highest National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) certification level–140-2 Level 4.

“The most important advice I got from mentors along the way was to be aggressive about personal development, because the pace of business requires that we keep advancing our functional and technical skills to stay current.”
—Priya Doty, vice president, Product Marketing, IBM Z and LinuxONE

Thwarting Cloud Misperceptions

While cloud is certainly top of mind for clients, IBM recognizes that just as with any paradigm, cloud comes with some challenges to IT.

After completing research with existing Z clients as well as cloud-friendly prospects, IBM found that the clear issue that emerges is the unpredictability that accompanies cloud deployments. Charging as you go can lead to larger than expected costs. Losing visibility over key delivery aspects is also a common concern as CIOs and executives don’t have the same level of control over their cloud team as they do over the team that works in their data center.

But perhaps most important are concerns over security and data protection in the cloud. Data protection is one of the hallmarks of IBM Z. The objective is to manage around some of the most common issues, including the need to encrypt data and the need to manage privileged insiders, whether malicious or not.

In addition to the Secure Service Containers capability that makes container-based applications and data tamper-proof from privileged insiders, one of IBM’s most prominent data security capabilities is the ability to encrypt 100% of data associated with an application, database or cloud service, at the hardware level with no impact to service-level agreements.

“Our whole strategy is to enable any app or data that touches the Z platform—whether it sits in your data center or in a cloud—to be secured,” notes Doty.

Cloud and Open Source Represent Growth Areas

Analysts are the first to advise companies to base their cloud strategies around business decisions. Workloads need to go where they make the most sense. For the most sensitive and mission-critical workloads, the direction from the analyst community is to modernize and integrate them in place. This approach builds on your investment and preserves the security and resiliency advantages of IBM Z. This presents an area of growth for IBM Z and LinuxONE.

One client that runs on the cloud with IBM Z and has benefitted from those security and resiliency advantages has not experienced a data breach in over 15 years. This type of data protection is vital in highly regulated industries such as finance, healthcare and government.

And, according to Doty, new clients, including digital banks and blockchain startups, are coming to IBM to deploy on Z, where it makes the most sense. For example, Smart Dubai, an open government initiative, announced the launch of the Dubai Blockchain Platform, the first government-endorsed blockchain platform as-a-service in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Delivered through an IBM Cloud environment, the enterprise-ready platform will serve as a stepping stone for organizations in the UAE and globally to transition their blockchain testing and development into full-production.

Spreading the word about the role of IBM Z in these growth areas is the job of Doty and the 35-person agile marketing team. For those who are unfamiliar with IBM Z, the marketing team strives to educate them about the world-class attributes offered by IBM Z. “Clients with IBM Z systems have the best data protection and the most resilient systems, because the engineering team is always striving to do better,” she adds. “If you take this, coupled with the capabilities that are now available to operate in a hybrid multicloud ecosystem, clients should be confident now and into the future that the roadmap that we have is designed take their needs into account.”

Open source is another growth area that excites Doty. As a key contributor in the Open Mainframe Project’s open-source framework, Zowe, IBM collaborated with Rocket Software and Broadcom to bring the project to fruition. Zowe allows developers to connect into an IBM Z system without needing to learn the classic green screen.

“Couple Zowe with the modernized IBM Z software portfolio, which includes open testing and open development, and you’ll see that across the DevOps lifecycle, developers can expose the data and applications they have in-place, evolve those applications and optimize them,” she says.

‘Everyone’s Path Is Different’

Staying current on a platform that’s constantly evolving to meet the needs of modern companies should be a goal for everyone who works on IBM Z. It’s something Doty is passionate about. Her final piece of advice for young people who are working on IBM Z also applies to those who have enjoyed mainframe careers for many years. “Don’t be shy about learning about new technology,” she advises. “But also, start small. Find 10 minutes out of your day to learn something new and go from there.”

When she mentors others, she doesn’t tell them to follow in her footsteps. Instead Doty says, “When I talk to people looking for career advice, I coach them to leverage their strengths, and use those to advance into where they want to be next. Everyone’s path is different. But that path should, at a minimum, take you down a road that you have passion for.”

Evelyn Hoover is the content director of IBM Systems magazine. She can be reached at ehoover@msptechmedia.com.


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