The Mainframe – but not as you know it.

The mainframe’s place in history is secure, while its future depends on how well it adapts to meet both the business challenges we know about, and those still to come. Que Mangus looks at how Micro Focus can help.

Introduction

For many of the world’s most successful enterprises, the mainframe matters more than ever. A 2019 Forrester study said 64 percent of enterprises will run more than half their business-critical applications on the mainframe, up from 57 percent in 2018.

Additionally, 72 percent of customer-facing applications are either completely or mostly reliant on mainframe processing. So, the large corporation of 2020 will typically find a mainframe as its beating heart, but as we enter a new digital decade, the technology must be functionally relevant, dependable, and secure.

The Modern Mainframe

But what does that look like? To answer this, we need to look at digital transformation, and how it helps companies adapt to a constantly evolving and challenging competitive landscape. Our work with thousands of customers repeatedly encounters these three core avenues for modernization:

– Application Modernization – Extending critical application value with low-risk innovation.
– Process Modernization – Matching enterprise application delivery speed to today’s required pace of change.
– Infrastructure Modernization – Achieving flexibility, security, and cost efficiency by deploying applications across host, server, and cloud.

Addressing these factors will help ensure today’s critical applications remain functionally relevant, dependable, and secure for tomorrow.

However, as organizational needs change, so must their mainframe applications, and the enterprise must evaluate and address a number of issues to do so. Consider these important topical questions facing today’s IT leaders:

– How users, robots, and applications access and interact with mainframe applications
– Extending enterprise-level security to mainframe application access
– Modernizing and cloud-enabling the downstream applications that use business logic and data from mainframe applications
– Automating the testing of mainframe applications to support CI/CD initiatives
– Gaining the benefits of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for terminal-based mainframe applications

 

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In each case this presents a new challenge that the mainframe application portfolio had hitherto not considered, and for which a solution is far from obvious.

Micro Focus can help

This really is our thing. The Micro Focus Mainframe Access and Security portfolios address all these points, ensuring business users can efficiently and securely access and utilize host-based applications. Let’s look at each of these scenarios in turn to describe the holistic Micro Focus approach:

1) Modernizing terminal-centric business applications
2) Securing access to the mainframe
3) Centrally managed access to critical host applications
4) Automated testing of mainframe applications
5) RPA and Automation

1) Why Modern Mainframe Access Matters

When it comes to embracing changing user and business demand, only the more modernized terminal-based applications can meet those needs. Customers need terminal-centric web applications that integrate mainframe/host-based business logic with other systems as well as the user interface, to create a winning experience.

According to IDC, “businesses want to modernize to enable competitive differentiation, and they need to modernize, both as a competitive response and for regulatory compliance”, through initiatives that modernize their legacy applications.

While the need to address access and application modernization issues is clear, risk-averse enterprises are not keen to tinker with the engine running their business. Fortunately, the non-invasive nature of our technology negates the need to overhaul mainframe applications.

Micro Focus helps in three ways; Host Access for the Cloud, a zero-footprint terminal emulation solution, Host Access Analyzer – available soon – enables endpoint inventory and analysis to identify targets for modernization, and Verastream, a class-leading service enablement solution, that ‘captures the power of legacy’.

2) Securing access to the mainframe

Mainframe Security encompasses the need to provide secure access to enterprise applications that run on mainframe systems. This is especially important as mainframe applications hold some of the most critical data, yet in many cases are put at risk from outdated “security through obscurity” mindsets. IBM estimates 80 percent of the world’s corporate data resides or originates on mainframes. However, a recent study showed , despite the potential for brand damage.

This is business-critical information and with data breaches costing on average, $3.92 million globally, it is imperative that enterprise security extends to the mainframe through modern security controls, including:

– Access control (including strong authentication/multi-factor authentication and authorization)
– Endpoint hardening (systems are configured to the ‘least privilege’ principle, and all security patches are applied)
– Data privacy controls (data masking and encryption).

Micro Focus solutions can help plug serious security holes and mitigate security concerns through enterprise-wide modern authentication methods. Our products include, Host Access Management and Security Server, Automated Sign-On for Mainframe Add-On, Reflection Desktop and Rumba+ Desktop (with data masking capabilities), and Multi-factor Authentication (including the Advanced Authentication Connector for z/OS).

3) Centrally managed access to critical host applications

Web-based, zero-footprint solutions are essential. Organizations must modernize and cloud-enable the existing business applications consuming mainframe business logic and data either by zero-footprint host access, or full-featured desktop terminal emulation.

Micro Focus solutions enable organizations to extend the value of host applications by offering flexible zero-footprint host access, delivered on-prem or from the cloud, with advanced security built-in. Micro Focus Host Access for the Cloud reduces the resource-intensive cycle of traditional desktop emulators by delivering simplified, secure zero-footprint access to those who need it. Additionally, Micro Focus offers desktop terminal emulation solutions, Reflection Desktop and Rumba+ Desktop.

These solutions are full-featured terminal emulator, and when centrally managed via Host Access Management and Security Server (MSS), organizations can integrate the mainframe application access with their Identity and Access management (IAM) to strengthen access controls and authentication; and take centralized control over the emulator.  The combination of these solutions lowers TCO and improves security and access control, while retaining the features of a full featured emulator.

4) Automated testing for mainframe application development

Teams working on mainframe application development can meet user and line-of-business demands quickly and efficiently by automating the testing process behind continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) practices.

This enables organizations to deliver applications on time, with minimal bugs, and meet regulatory requirements through functional, regression, and performance testing of mainframe applications in an automated, scalable and robust way. Want to maximize resources using current skill sets and infrastructure? Use Micro Focus Verastream Host Integrator to encapsulate application business logic in reusable services for use with your testing solutions and infrastructure.

5) RPA (robotic process automation)

RPA for the mainframe helps with automating repeated processes, particularly mainframe-focused RPA initiatives; this includes managing the automation lifecycle, streamlining time-consuming workflows, managing risks by automating tasks, securing automations, improving customer service, and automating reporting. All the Micro Focus solutions created to help automate mainframe tasks, such as Verastream Host Integrator, Reflection Desktop and Rumba+ Desktop integrate with Micro Focus Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Mature Application Modernization

We’re confident that we understand our customers’ issues because, frankly, we’ve helped solve so many. Our decades of experience and know-how in implementing modernization solutions, including Mainframe Access and Security,  is part of our Modernization Maturity Model. This model provides a “best-practice approach for enterprise modernization projects”. Introduced as a “practical framework” for success, “the Micro Focus Modernization Maturity Model aims to provide a mapping from the initial business drivers behind the change requirements, through a technical strategy towards appropriate tactical options.” Learn more about this model in Derek Britton’s blog post, Mature Application Modernization – Our 20:20 Vision.

 

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Summary

The mainframe, and the applications tied to it, can be overlooked when it comes to access and security. And the challenges involved are getting more complex.

Be different.

– Secure your mainframe systems with modern controls, including auto sign-on and multi-factor authentication.
– Create a superior user experience, through modern access to your host systems.
– Use automated testing to provide quality mainframe applications, and
– Reduce errors and labor through RPA and automation.

The Tech Tip webinar “Host Systems Inventory and Analysis” on January 23 explains how you can achieve an accurate view of your current mainframe infrastructure, software, and deployment, and use that information to plan for change.

Learn more about application modernization right here.

Que Mangus

Director of Product Marketing

Micro Focus

follow me on twitter or connect on LinkedIn

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