zEnterprise series part 5 of 5: zEnterprise: Making Your Applications Fit for Purpose

Fit for Purpose IT modernization

In an increasingly complex IT world, one size rarely fits all so a single supplier, technology or platform may not deliver all the capabilities and services an organization needs. Genuine alternative options are needed to enable a fit-for-purpose response to evolving business requirements.

The final blog in this series looks at the alternative approaches to IT leaders as they modernize their systems to tackle backlogs, launch new innovation and deal with capacity concerns.

Speaking your language

The time-proven mainframe languages, COBOL and PL/I, remain important to many organizations, and the mainframe as a platform still works well in supporting many of the world’s most successful organizations. But many IT leaders are concerned that combining the two – using so-called legacy languages in a mainframe environment – may compromise their capacity to develop, test and deploy their applications as efficiently as possible.

The languages work just fine but concerns over skills shortages, future technical direction and on-going maintenance costs still impact the planning of future business tactics. As mainframe developers retire, they are replaced by new developers without the skills and knowledge to continue their work. Consequently, core business systems miss out on maintenance and costs continue to rise.

There is a demonstrable knock-on effect: the IT backlog builds, inefficient processes drive costs and risk skywards and mainframe capacity dwindles as core applications relentlessly expand their mainframe footprint. It’s a grim picture.

Just Take Five

Faced with this daunting prospect, IT leaders are – unsurprisingly – looking at alternatives. We’ve assessed five approaches to modernizing the mainframe application portfolio:

Redundant mainframe programs or applications are consuming valuable mainframe space. Removing them, using a software tools-based approach, will reduce unnecessary costs, help ”keep the lights on” and, if handled correctly, clear a space for innovation. Detailed analysis will identify unused programs and applications, avoiding the risk of paralyzing a key business function.

Regularly maintained applications will continue to ‘tick over’ as they always have done using z/OS mainframe resources. This is the simplest approach, and carries the lowest risk. With smarter, contemporary tooling, improvements in development efficiency, higher application quality and faster delivery throughput can be drip-fed into an ongoing improvement process. We explore application development modernization in more detail here.

Looking forwards, an IT manager may decide to rewrite the current application technology platform into a more contemporary language. This requires application owners to have a firm grasp of the application composition and both the current language and the one it will be changed to. This complex task is high in risk, failure rate and can consume large quantities of budget and time[1].

The transition process, as an older IT system is replaced with an off-the-shelf, ‘vanilla’ package risks the intellectual property that has, over time, been built in to the outgoing system – and the company’s competitive advantage could go with it. Perhaps that’s why almost half[2] of package replacement projects fail…

Alternatively, running things where they make the most business sense – without compromising the underlying application – is a viable and arguably lower-risk option. By revamping the current platform and infrastructure without risking the core system, workload can be replicated and rebalanced according to today’s operational imperatives. Placing some non-critical elements on, say, alternative zEnterprise partitions or other robust servers could be the inexpensive, low-risk solution to a variety of business drivers.

Reusing, in preference to replacing or rewriting code, improves workload flexibility, time to market and usually reduces costs. As before, freeing space elsewhere creates capacity for innovation.

zEnterprise is the latest IBM mainframe release, providing more platform flexibility than ever.[3]

Using Micro Focus Enterprise Server for genuine modernization choice

Genuine flexibility can help tackle cumbersome IT backlogs, unnecessary risk and escalating costs. With the zEnterprise platform and Enterprise Server deployment technology, organizations can establish new levels of freedom, flexibility and innovation. Costs and risk can be contained or reduced while quality and time-to-market can be improved by up to 50%.

Getting Smarter

So, as our zEnterprise technology blog series concludes, it’s good to reflect on what we’ve learned. Essentially, that your modernization journey can start from any number of places, which will be shaped by the specific challenges you face. So, whether the issues centre on a lack of understanding or knowledge, inefficient development or testing processes, or concerns over the provision of production workload, innovative modernization approaches are available to dramatically improve IT performance.

Building on the power and flexibility of the new zEnterprise platform, Micro Focus’ Enterprise product set[4] provides smart answers to pressing mainframe IT challenges, and enables organizations to meet innovation and efficiency challenges simultaneously.

Want to know more?

Then check out our white paper, Mainframe Application Delivery and Deployment – a Fresh Approach  for a more detailed insight into the different options for tackling mainframe applications and the combined benefits of zEnterprise and Enterprise Server.

Missed a bit? Read the first, second, third and fourth blogs in this series.

Ready for innovation? Contact the Micro Focus team and start your journey.


[1] http://www.semdesigns.com/Products/Services/StandishGroupModernizationWhitePaper2011.pdf

[2] http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/docs/chaos-report.pdf

[3] https://blog.microfocus.com/news/eclipse-and-zenterprise-the-innovation-combination/2278/

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