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Mainframe Strategy: Identifying and Solving Common IBM Z Issues

One of my recent clients was a Fortune 100 company utilizing many mainframes and all of the complexities that go with it. My client had robust availability, resiliency everywhere, and redundancy exactly where you expect it. They had a multitude of highly skilled individuals keeping their infrastructure and applications running smoothly. They also had an executive team focused on IT strategy to support the current and future business needs of the company. After a thorough analysis of their hardware and software configurations, availability design, implementation procedures, incident response protocols, and hundreds of other details one thing was clear. This was the best maintained and managed mainframe infrastructure I had ever seen. They had taken every best practice available and implemented it. Then, they continued to augment and make improvements. However, even this company, with all its expertise and thoughtful planning was cognizant that they needed an unbiased perspective to help them unleash the potential within their mainframe systems and their company.

First, we need to look at what common issues mainframe consumers have, then understand how to solve those issues, and lastly determine how you can unleash that untapped potential within the environment you already have.

Common Mainframe User Issues

Mainframe users come in all shapes and sizes. There are the behemoth corporations that have dozens of mainframes in multiple cities; smaller organizations with a single footprint in someone else’s data center; and everything in between. All mainframe consumers have common root causes for their issues: They want lower costs, improved performance for a better end user experience, agility and flexibility to easily use the latest technology. Some have applications that have become incredibly complex with many connections to other platforms, networks, users and customers. Others have software and or hardware currency issues that seem monumental to deal with. Some have had outages and inconsistent implementation issues. Acquisitions have left others with a plethora of connected mainframe systems without any optimization leaving a complicated sprawl of mainframe and other resources.

In many cases, mainframe systems have had such little attention that companies are literally wasting resources and money by the minute. Then, there’s the expense of the platform and seeming lack of talented people to maintain and manage it. Getting rid of the platform may seem like the easiest solution but that is not without its own challenges. Most mainframe organizations have one last thing in common: They’re unaware of the potential waiting to be harvested within the platform they already have. It’s easy to see problems, but great solutions are sometimes elusive.

Solving Mainframe Challenges

Solving these problems requires that environments, systems and strategy be expertly assessed with an unbiased perspective. Align that insight with your goals. Then, adjust your strategy to achieve those goals. In most cases, mainframe users are sitting on a gold mine of capability that they both need and want but are unaware that the modern mainframe can provide it to them. This untapped capability can often be realized with minimal investment and unleash great rewards that could be measured in terms of a solid disaster recovery position, more resilient applications, more efficient use of hardware, wide use and adoption of hyperscaler cloud, a rock-solid cyberresiliency position, and more. What’s needed here is a strategic approach to this vast array of complex problems.

Tap the Gold Mine

At Kyndryl, our mainframe strategy is simple: Understand each client’s business at a detailed level and then determine how best to achieve their goals. We will use our depth and breadth of experiences and uncover all the possibilities. It’s not enough to say that the strategy is to “modernize the mainframe” or “move to the cloud.” The real questions are why, and what is the best way for each unique client? First, understand the problems that need solving and then determine the best way to do that. This could include moving some applications off the mainframe altogether or perhaps a better, cheaper solution. Whether you want to move off the platform or not is not our concern. Our concern is helping you achieve your goals, whatever they are.

Kyndryl’s Mainframe Strategy

This article is the first one in a new series by Jim Zell, John Shuman and Pat Stanard of Kyndryl that will explain our mainframe strategy. The articles will be released approximately every three weeks. The core of our strategy is a series of assessments that drill into specific infrastructure areas to locate those untapped gems.

The customer I mentioned above is now aggressively pursuing their goals. We’ve partnered with them and are helping them on their journey to improve their technology position and ensure that their systems are always available for their customers. Bottom line, they’re seeing the potential of the modern mainframe and maximizing the value of their investment.

Here at Kyndryl, we want to help you unleash the potential of your modern mainframe systems and your business—and we hope this article series can help you start this process. If performance is troubling you, stay tuned! Our next article will discuss all aspects of system performance. Following will be articles that discuss many topics like mainframe cyber, modernization, applications and others.