Top Mainframe Industry Trends in 2016 on Inside Tech Talk
State of the Mainframe
Despite a new fusillade of criticism and derision toward the mainframe in 2016 (the latest declaration of “death to the mainframe” coming from Amazon Web Services’ James Hamilton), we should rest assured it was a dynamic year for the platform, and we can expect things to continue looking up because the mainframe is a necessary component of digital progress.
For example, as Bryan Smith wrote in an article for Network World this past September, “I think the cloud will come to rely on big iron. As the world becomes more and more data-driven, the data will need more and more horsepower, and a mainframe is the perfect machine for the job.”
We agree the mainframe has an important role to play in the future of our digital economy, and that’s why we’ve spent time covering where the mainframe is and where it needs to go, writing blogs about:
- Why the z13 mainframe is modern
- Why migrating mainframe programs is a bad idea
- Changing the future of your mainframe and business
- Changing culture, processes and tools
- Improving customer experience by innovating
Agile and DevOps
Although DevOps has been a hot topic for a few years, 2016 seemed to be the year mainframe industry analysts, software vendors and companies on the platform started looking more seriously at an integrated development model. A good place to learn more about mainframe DevOps is Christopher Tozzi’s blog “Making Mainframes DevOps-Friendly,” written for our partner Syncsort. Tozzi wrote a great overview of what DevOps is and why bringing it to the mainframe can benefit organizations, adding to our own experts insights on:
- Ending the feud between mainframe and open systems
- How to be a mainframe DevOps evangelist
- The effectiveness of integrating mainframe and distributed tools
- Making it easier to integrate with REST APIs
- Improving the process of installing and configuring products across vendor lines
This past January, Adrian Bridgwater wrote in an article for Forbes that the new challenge we face in mainframe development is “showing CIOs how they can empower DevOps teams with strong mainstream skills to manage mainframe code using Agile processes and popular DevOps toolsets.”
Necco Ceresani touched on this in his blog “DevOps for Mainframes: Essential Processes for Evolution,” written for our partner XebiaLabs. We have as well throughout 2016 on Inside Tech Talk, discussing bringing the mainframe further into the Agile/DevOps fold, knocking down silos and letting the platform coalesce with the rest of IT to enable cross-platform development and continuous delivery to get customers what they need at digital business speed, with blogs on:
- The difference between Agile and Waterfall
- Debunking the common myths of Agile development
- Looking at history to support Agile
- Bringing two-week sprints to the mainframe
- Choosing the right tools for mainframe agility
- How one customer transformed to be Agile
Preparing a New Workforce
Although the issue of replacing mainframe development experts as they retire has been a concern for years, in a recent survey conducted after a joint webcast Compuware hosted with its partner Ensono, 78 percent of respondents said their companies aren’t preparing or executing strategies to recruit the next generation of developers to take over their mainframe environments.
We delved into this issue to help our customers and others improve their efforts to build a new workforce of talented programmers, including blogs about:
- Recruiting, training and retaining next-gen developers
- Discovering what Millennials think about working on the mainframe,
- What upcoming leaders should be doing to improve the process
- Considering generational differences
Security and Data Privacy
According to a study by Intel Security, 43 percent of data exfiltration is internal. For one, this indicates companies don’t have as much visibility into their security as they should, but it also serves as an omen of bigger issues to come in the form of stricter government and security compliance measures that carry heavy fines for companies that ignore them. The biggest impacts are sure to come from the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), coming into force on May 25, 2018.
Because so much data involves the mainframe, companies need to begin taking measures to improve security around the platform in tandem with other efforts to lockdown data protection. In 2016, our data and security experts wrote at length about:
- Improving application visibility to meet security demands
- How to strengthen data protection
- How to prevent internal data breaches
- Moving test data to test/QA teams faster, safer and more efficiently
- How to prepare for the GDPR
Enterprises aren’t the only ones relying on mainframes to run mission-critical applications and data. The Federal Government also relies on the mainframe for certain operations, but modernizing the mainframe in the public sector turns out to be a bigger feat.
Unfortunately, a bill called the Modernizing Government Technology Act of 2016 that would have provided government agencies billions of dollars to replace or modernize IT systems, including the mainframe, failed to pass through Congress in December. The good news is the bill is likely to resurface, according to a report from FCW.
For a look at what’s happening around this challenge, read more on:
- How the Federal Government can modernize the mainframe
- How we’re helping Congress members understand mainframe modernization
We’re looking forward to 2017 and expect the mainframe to become an even more relevant machine in the enterprise and the digital economy. As always, we’ll continue watching the industry and filling you in with opinions, explanations and advice around the top mainframe industry trends.
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