For a long time, mainframe teams have been excluded from conversations around IT innovation. Considered an immutable legacy system loitering on the fringes of the modern world, the mainframe has been forgotten, its importance in the enterprise downplayed, and the teams that support it have come to feel like victims of a changing world. Today, however, the longtime dim outlook on the future of the mainframe is finally becoming brighter.
In February, Compuware held its first Customer Advisory Council (CAC) of 2017 in gorgeous Bonita Springs, FL. Despite the sunny, two-and-a-half-day reprieve from Detroit’s winter, the balmy weather remained secondary to the main purpose of engaging with almost 30 mainframe customers who were eager to hear our new ideas, share their own and experience all the other advantages of attending.
Over the past few years hosting this customer event, we’ve observed an evolution in attendee’s thoughts and attitudes. At Bonita Springs the change was palpable: Customers are reconfiguring their perspectives of the mainframe’s place in the digital enterprise. Instead of feeling weary and defeated as helpless stewards of a platform in decline, they’re readying to fight for the platform’s future, given its proven benefits, capabilities and the critical role it continues to play in the digital era.
How Mainframe Customers Are Progressing
During our Bonita Springs CAC, there were plenty of opportunities to observe and listen to mainframe customers’ enthusiasm for new ideas around culture, processes and tools to help advance the mainframe.
After two days of product demos, hearing customer feedback and providing opportunities for customers to share their ideas with us, the conference rooms were overflowing with positive vibes around the future of the mainframe. Here are some of the major ideas I gathered about our mainframe customers.
They aren’t afraid to adapt. Thanks to modern DevOps tools and Agile processes, mainframe teams now can change and adapt to the vicissitudes of the digital age with finesse at nearly the same rate as their distributed counterparts have for years. This was a standout theme at the gathering. Mainframe leaders have come to terms with the need to adapt on an ongoing basis, the influence they can have on the success of their organization, and how to use the latest generation of mainframe innovation to achieve broader organizational aims of digital agility.
Their developers are their customers. Technical executives, managers, sysprogs and other mainframe stewards are breaking away from the old-school mentality of rigid, top-down mainframe development. They’re becoming leaders who see their developers as internal customers who need to be empowered to experiment with creativity to drive innovation. There’s a greater focus on the needs of end users and how they benefit from the development process. The better mainframe leaders can serve their end users, the more productive and competitive those teams, and their companies, can become.
They need tools to drive Agile/DevOps. Likewise, leaders are thinking more about how they can equip their mainframe developers to be more productive and creative. Many of them are already trying to make Agile/DevOps work with what they’re doing. The fluidity and flexibility of Compuware tools are helping them do that, or helping them understand how it can be done.
They’re ready to combat destructive mainframe stereotypes. As I’ve said, the group of mainframe customers who came to Bonita Springs shared a forward-thinking mindset. They’re well-aware their companies’ mainframe applications and data are business-critical. While many for a while may have reluctantly accepted the mainframe’s relegation to a lower place on the IT totem pole, it seems all of them are now pushing back against destructive ideas like migrating off the platform. The mainframe doesn’t have to be slow, and customers see a path for agility with the right toolset that allow them to be more adaptable and accomplish more.
They have courage to generate new ideas. From the beginning, the CAC has been focused on engagement, brainstorming and feedback. We understand how vital it is to for mainframe customers to participate in these things, and we’re noticing an increase in that. One notable instance at Bonita Springs was during Customer Shark Tank, a session where customers pitched meaningful ideas for products and functionality to Compuware product managers. Mainframe customers aren’t just showing up to the CAC to hear us give our spiel; they’re attending because they have worthy and well-informed ideas about the future of the platform and the products we’re building. No doubt, they care as much about the future of the mainframe as much as we do.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend a CAC yet, consider registering for our next event in August. For more information about how to attend, please contact Compuware marketing manager Janet Misukiewicz at Janet.Misukiewicz@compuware.com.