Now Is the Time for Digital Transformation on IBM Z
Here's a look at some elements to consider when it comes to mainframe digital transformation.
By Derek Britton03/01/2018
In the northern hemisphere, seasonal changes in the weather are upon us. The familiar March winds and April showers aren’t entirely welcome, but typical and expected.
Regular, significant change is no stranger in global enterprise IT—in fact, change is a constant. Fresh winds are never far away, blowing through the corridors of IT like an unwanted storm, risking all in its path. A topical example for many is the maelstrom of digital transformation.
Going digital is a here-and-now IT concern—online transactions on Cyber Monday reached a record $6.59 billion, according to Adobe Insights (adobe.ly/2nbjPcC). Consider there are now 5 billion mobile phone users—a jump of almost 1 billion devices in five years, according to Statista.com. And look at the rich capabilities smartphones offer in terms of engagement.
Digital demands attention: A Micro Focus survey (microfocus.com/futureofCOBOL) found that IT budgets are being explicitly diverted toward newer digital systems of engagement. In just four years, the proportion of IT budgets invested in digital systems has climbed from 20 percent to 55 percent. Almost all banks in the U.S., Germany, U.K. and Switzerland already have a defined digital transformation strategy, a GFT study (bit.ly/2kXWcQa) found.
However, embracing the digital world organizationally isn’t so easy to achieve. Only 5 percent of organizations think they have mastered the task, notes an ESG study (bit.ly/2oCf6j7), while a 2017 Couchbase survey found that 80 percent are at risk of being left behind by digital transformation (bit.ly/2uy7wc9). So it seems that while many are trying, most are frankly struggling.
Transformation You Can Trust
As the bedrock of some of the world’s most successful organizations, the mainframe environment is no stranger to the adage that it’s often better to start with what already works when choosing the right solution.
This has never been truer than today, as the relative decline in available IT budgets dictates greater reliance on core systems. At the Gartner Symposium in October, it was predicted that 90 percent of all applications running today will still be in use in 2023.
According to the Micro Focus customer survey, 84 percent of mainframe applications are planned to be maintained or modernized in the near future. Given the range of options and technologies that may be exploited, in terms of connection points and user experiences, the key question has become: How best to modernize?
No two storms are the same, and many factors can conspire to blow the winds of change off in a particular direction. Common among them are business priorities, available budget, technology bias, attitude to risk, operational culture and skills profile. But when it comes to mainframe digital transformation, additional constituent elements must be considered—the what, how and where of IT modernization.
What: The Application
What’s the business service being provided and how do we unlock and renew its value for the digital age? Application modernization demands that the user experience is innovative, while still able to leverage trusted core mainframe processes and secure transactions.
Achieving this requires unprecedented levels of business logic and application code insight and manageability, and the ability to leverage API models and service-based architectures. This provides the throughput and protection necessary between the new touchpoints and the mainframe mothership in a hybrid best-of-breed model.
How: The Process
How’s that service being delivered? What do your clients need and—importantly—by when?
Distributed, agile teams are using a more nimble approach to what’s currently available in the world of TSO/ISPF. Yet the mainframe is capable of supporting faster delivery through the adoption of Agile and DevOps methods and tooling, to deliver the increased levels of application delivery velocity, quality and frequency required to support digital transformation.
Where: The Infrastructure
Where must that service be delivered, where else might it also be needed and what new levels of application security and data protection are required in a new world of pervasive and ubiquitous access?
In a connected world, the user may want to consume your apps from anywhere; no wonder that, according to a 2017 IBM Systems Magazine reader survey (bit.ly/2Dn1vkR), 50 percent of all mainframe shops have IBM LinuxONE* or Linux* on IBM Z* providing valuable services wherever they’re needed, while a growing number of organizations have set up their own cloud infrastructure. Being able to provide flexible, secure business services anywhere is an imperative of the digital era. The connected, secure mainframe can remain the cornerstone of an always-on, available-everywhere digital ecosystem.
Starting From a Position of Strength
Starting with the premise that by leveraging what’s already successful, you can build from a position of strength is a cornerstone approach for an effective digital strategy.
Whether remodeling the application, securing the application experience, rewiring the delivery process or delivering new hybrid applications on new devices in new form factors, starting with trusted technology is a major competitive advantage enjoyed by mainframe organizations.
Is it any surprise that, according to BMC, over two-thirds of the mainframe community are increasing their capacity to support the demands of the digital age (bit.ly/2zDY8H4)?
Embracing a digital transformation revolves around being a more client-centric, nimble organization. This means tackling a variety of challenges: delivering change faster, repurposing and modernizing business functions and flexibility to deploy them more securely across mainframe, Linux, cloud and all other business-critical environments. Supporting a model of hybrid IT that makes use of the best fit-for-purpose tools and platforms, and unified by Agile processes, smart digital transformation can build on decades of mainframe success to support a new digital era.
Looking for a way to navigate the headwinds of change? Rely on something that’s been built to last.
Derek Britton is director of Strategy and Enablement at Micro Focus.
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