Information Strategy

Time to Modernize the Mainframe

Develop mobile, web, and social media applications that utilize legacy data for business innovation

Innovation is one of the strongest advantages any business can strive to achieve in today’s competitive landscape. Adapting to new realities as the competitive landscape evolves is a key element of innovation. As consumerization continues to drive increased demand for information and services on mobile platforms, one way organizations can adapt is by tapping into mainframe assets and creating innovative, advanced applications and services that require minimal time and effort.

A majority of leading-edge organizations support their information infrastructure using mainframe enterprise systems such as the IBM® Information Management System (IMS™) database management system built on IBM System z® servers. These companies rely heavily on a robust mainframe infrastructure to handle the vast volume of data and back-office processes required to operate the business.

As a result, any thoughts of modernizing the mainframe—quite often the nerve center of the business—can raise concerns that an implementation may be lengthy and costly, and can risk losing essential data or compromising its integrity. Yet across the globe, increased consumerization and the explosive growth of mobile devices—smartphones, tablets, and laptops—are driving demand for information and self-service applications that can be accessed anytime, anywhere on mobile platforms.

The good news is that advanced IT tools and technologies now enable organizations to leverage mainframe data for creating and deploying advanced applications and services on mobile, cloud computing, web, and social media platforms. And this development can be accomplished relatively quickly and without any risk to the mainframe architecture or data.

 

Phenomenal growth

Mobile devices may turn out to be the most significant and disruptive technology shift organizations have faced since the dawn of the Internet. IDC Predictions 2012 stated that mobile devices will outship PCs by more than two to one and will generate more revenue than PCs for the first time.1 As a result, a significant number of organizations intend to enhance mobile capability within their organizations, and in doing so they hope to enhance their standing in their industries by adopting innovative mobility solutions. In addition, e-commerce alone has become a trillion-dollar business. Business-to-consumer (B2C) sales grew 21.1 percent in 2012 to top USD1 trillion for the first time, according to a new global estimate by eMarketer.2

These developments provide powerful evidence that mobile technology is more than a fad; it is a reality in the world of on-demand computing. People and organizations around the world now routinely expect to be able to access information and transact business anytime and in any location from the computing platform of their choosing.

 

Enhanced delivery

The rapid evolution of mobile, web, cloud-based, and social media applications has opened up new possibilities for organizations to meet consumer expectations, empower workforces, and collaborate with partners and suppliers. Many firms that have deployed mobile and web applications are in a position to see that these innovations can help reduce overall costs and expand their market reach.

Banks and financial services organizations, for example, were among the first to adopt mobile computing. Using online applications, account holders can now pay bills, trade stocks, check account status, deposit checks, and perform other secure transactions right from their smartphones, laptops, and PCs. Other types of organizations that have launched innovative mobile, web, and social media applications are insurance firms, retailers, manufacturers, colleges and universities, and state and local government agencies. None of these applications in these types of industries would be possible without access to the data and analytics residing on the mainframe.

Accelerating the integration of mainframe-based assets and creating on-demand applications that help reduce administrative costs—while helping improve operational efficiency, business intelligence (BI), and customer service—is relatively simple and cost-effective when implementing today’s advanced tools and software. Using the right toolset, these applications can be generated quickly and easily, with no need to write code and absolutely no risk to mainframe operations or legacy data.

 

No time like the present

The time is ripe for mainframe-based enterprises to modernize for today’s business practices. People want to conduct business in their own way. Operations no longer exist in strictly a nine-to-five world, and in the new era of mobility, self-service is a key provision.

Companies that are still struggling with unwieldy processes left over from the client/server computing era may find that modernization strategies enable them to replace nightly refresh cycles with instant updates and replication across platforms in real time. These strategies also help organizations enhance internal processes and competitive positioning. Companies that ignore the demand for self-service and real-time transactions may inevitably stagnate as more innovative competitors gain market share.

In searching for a technology partner for mainframe modernization, seeking out a vendor that is deeply knowledgeable about specific mainframe system and modernization technologies is important. The appropriate partner helps an organization decide whether to modernize in place, migrate, and modernize or utilize unique hybrid approaches. No one solution fits all organizations, but the right solution helps reduce risk and take applications to the next level of services and business delivery.

Please share any thoughts or questions about this topic in the comments.

1 IDC Predictions 2012: Competing for 2020, IDC Top 10 Predictions, IDC #231720, Volume 1, December 2011.
2 Ecommerce sales topped $1 trillion for first time in 2012,” eMarketer Inc., February 2013.

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Dusty Rivers

Dusty Rivers is a senior systems engineer and principal technical architect at GT Software, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping organizations worldwide leverage mainframe assets to develop applications for mobile, web, and cloud platforms. Dusty is a frequent presenter at SHARE conferences and has been an IBM Champion since 2009. Contact Dusty at mailto:drivers@gtsoftware.com.