Evangelizing Mainframe
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Technology is King, Long Live the Mainframe

In a world where technology is king, System z innovations are positioned to change how IT challenges are met. That was the message Tuesday, March 13, from Ray Jones, SHARE Conference keynote speaker and vice president of System z Software Sales in IBM Software Group.

With smart technology being incorporated into everything from phones to refrigerators, a Japanese futurist predicts the word “computer” will be outdated and arcane in 20 years, Jones said. In the business world, this is seen in the growing importance of CIOs in organizations. Because technology is so integral to success, some CEOs have taken on the CIO mantle as well, he added.

However, traditional computing paradigms are getting in the way of making technology a key enabler of business, Jones continued. About 70 percent of IT budgets are spent on operations and maintenance, and that number is growing. Freeing IT professionals from handling those types of tasks to innovate and empower businesses is crucial to changing the paradigm, he noted, and that’s where the mainframe stands out.

Jones also outlined the top 10 things you didn’t know System z can do:

10. Transaction management. While its transaction-processing capabilities are no secret, mainframe’s ability to scale up to meet growing transaction needs is less known. An IBM System z customer recently set a new record of processing 24,000 transactions per second. Mainframes are able to accommodate these large volumes with subsecond response time, he added.

9. Security. “To our knowledge, one has never been hacked,” Jones said of the mainframe. “We’ve trained it to sense hacking attempts.” It then resets the security maze so anything the hacker might have learned in the attempt will be useless. IBM even hires “ethical hackers” to try to break into a mainframe and show companies where they’re leaking data. This is key when you consider the average data breach costs a company $7 million.

8. Integrated service management. “We’ve trained the mainframe to be more self-managing and self-healing,” Jones said. These efforts include recent enhancements to the OMEGAMON series. “We’ve changed the paradigm from failover to continuous availability.”

7. Virtualization. After intense internal debate more than a decade ago, IBM agreed to invest in z/VM and Linux on System z, however, all of the reasons identified for doing so never materialized, he recalled. Instead, the ability to virtualize numerous servers on a single machine was what really sparked customers’ interest. Today, the combination of Linux on mainframe has large-scale adoption. “So everything we thought was wrong, but it turned out OK,” Jones said.

6. Business rules and processes. Before, business rules and processes were done manually—if they existed at all. Now, organizations can leverage native z/OS to create and monitor business processes. IBM continues to improve and enhance these capabilities as customers implement SOA and mesh systems together to provide, unified, real-time access.

5. Modern application development. The idea of mainframe programming only occurring on green screens is an outdated paradigm, Jones said. IBM Rational Software now delivers a modern, high-end tool set for developers that masks the back-end complexity. “I’ve met customers who have hundreds or thousands of programmers developing programs for the mainframe, and they don’t even know it,” he added.

4. Integrated appliances. Appliances used to be built manually and often involved multiple vendors. “Today, we are developing and accelerating any number of appliances to make workloads competitive on the mainframe,” Jones said. These include XML and accelerated analytics.

3. Data warehousing. In the 1980s, Jones conducted a study that showed 70 percent of organizations’ data was on the mainframe. That’s still the case today, but while the percentage is the same, the volumes have become massive with data proliferating throughout organizations. “Most CIOs are under the impression that data warehousing is done better somewhere else, so they’ve pushed it out,” he said. “We’ve now updated the functionality of the mainframe for data warehousing.” This includes new temporal capabilities added to DB2 10. “We’ve reinvigorated the platform for data warehousing and added new function.”

2. Cloud computing. Some still think of the cloud as “time sharing.” However, System z is being used to provide cloudlike capabilities, such as developing portlets for government agencies to better serve their citizens. In Honolulu, the city shares budget information online with the public for increased transparency. Residents can also alert street maintenance officials of troublesome potholes by taking a photo and posting it to the city’s Facebook page.

1. Business analytics. No longer limited to batch analysis, organizations are relying on queries answered in real time, Jones said. IBM is using Netezza technology to develop the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator. It’s also introducing business-intelligence software Cognos for z/OS because some queries are better done close to the data, Jones added.

Mike Westholder is site editor of Destination z.

Posted: 3/13/2012 12:30:34 PM by Mike Westholder

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