The good fortune of number fourteen

IBM’s recent Q3 results gave shareholders a welcome bonus by demonstrating some notable revenue results – including strong mainframe revenue.  A 10% growth in the LOB revenues was, according to IBM, “driven by growth in z Systems,” and which was no doubt buoyed by the recent launch of the new z14 mainframe machine.

The result of which was a notable uptick in the IBM stock price. It is encouraging that IBM, their mainframe customers AND their investors share the same positive outlook about the mainframe.

Encouraging? Yes. Fortunate? Not so much. It doesn’t shock me at all that the market is reminded of the profound value of the mainframe environment.

Digital means disruption

Recent industry surveys show only 5% believe they have mastered digital transformation. Traditional approaches are not supporting the flexibility, dynamism and technological diversity the modern organization requires.

Our own research suggests a seismic shift in terms of where IT money is being spent. There is a greater reliance on backend (typically mainframe) “systems of record”, while budget it diverted towards newer (often digital) “systems of engagement”. In just 4 years, the ratio of investment between the two has shifted from an 80/20 split to a 45/55.

Little wonder that at the Gartner Symposium in October, they predicted 90% of all apps running today will still be in use in 2023, while the application modernization services market is set to grow at a rate of 19.4% to be worth over $16Bn by 2022, according to a recent Research and Markets report.

This is supported by other elements of research which reinforce the continued investment in the mainframe as a value-enabler at the heart of digital transformation:

  • 84% of mainframe apps are planned to be maintained or modernized in the near future, according to Micro Focus’ own customer survey
  • 67% are increasing mainframe capacity, according to BMC
  • 50% of all mainframe shops are ALSO using Linux on z Systems, IBM Systems Magazine
  • 84% of the app dev market is using or planning a DevOps adoption, according to Rackspace

All of these data points support the argument that the mainframe is a critical platform of the digital growth those major organizations need. We predicted as much a little while back, and it is not only sensible but also encouraging to see how the market has adopted a very practical solution to the challenges of the digital age.

Modernization Models

Saying “we need to improve” is one thing, planning exactly how is another. It remains important to look holistically at what the business needs to achieve before deciding how the modernization of mainframe systems will support digital innovation. After all, modernization could mean all manner of things depending on the root of the challenge.

Three areas require scrutiny.

  • Application Modernization – This is the “WHAT” changing the app for the better to support new user need, new business functionality.
  • Process – which is more about changing the “how” – the means of creating and updating the systems themselves. Modernization of the process.
  • Infrastructure – more about the “where” than the what, making the mainframe app available as workload wherever the business needs it

In each case, it is important that business and IT leaders collaborate on what is needed by the business and how IT can achieve that without impacting daily operations or delaying the delivery of new business innovation.

Can we do it?

Organizationally, being ready to accept the market changes, and having the wherewithal to execute that change, is a question not only of desire but of skill.

Given the necessity to protect IT investments as well as embrace new technology, it holds that the blend of skills and strategies will have to embrace systems that keep businesses running today, as well as the right technologies and skills to support digital growth. So this means the mainframe and COBOL teams will need to work alongside, and indeed with, those building for new IoT devices, or platforms such as Cloud. This is a hybrid IT model, technically and operationally, that combines the best new technologies and processes, such as DevOps, with trusted core systems such as COBOL applications and IT operations management.

Micro Focus has long been an advocate of a proactive skills planning model to ensure the talent is available for both today and tomorrow’s IT challenges

Yes we can!

Micro Focus has a unique position in the mainframe modernization market. We offer modernization capability for core mainframe systems that will focus on the relevant aspects that need the change – whether application, process or infrastructure.

It allows us to position our solutions to meet these different challenges – delivering change faster, repurposing and modernizing business functions and flexibility to deploy these across mainframe, Linux, cloud and all other business-critical environments.

Supporting a model of hybrid IT that makes use of the best tools and platforms for the job, unified by agile processes, Micro Focus is building on decades of success to support the digital era for mainframe users. Find out how Micro Focus technology can help you maximise your investment in your mainframe by watching this recorded webinar:

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