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Creating a Self-Managing Mainframe

Hybrid IT environments, along with IT leaders and their teams, are facing more challenges than ever because of digital transformation efforts to add new or improved services for customers. The challenges are coming from all sides, and IT teams are often backed into a corner, left to respond reactively to dynamic changes, customer situations, threats to service delivery and data security, and escalating costs.

Staffing and skills challenges, budget pressures, modernization, and digital transformation can potentially stifle a business. This growing complexity is squeezing organizations. IT leaders and teams that don’t address and adapt will likely experience loss of market share and competitive advantage.

A Vortex of Complexity

IT leaders deal with complexity and pressure—estimating capacity and storage needs, safeguarding compliance and data security, ensuring the right skills are in place and productivity is high, determining when to use open-source tools, deciding when and how to move software and services to the cloud, avoiding unplanned outages, reducing maintenance windows, and predicting cost fluctuations. And they face all of this while attempting to deploy applications efficiently without impacting business services.

The four Vs contributing to this vortex of complexity for IT teams include: volatility of digital workloads, velocity of change in the environment, volume of data and transactions, and vintage skills of an aging workforce.

While the four Vs are challenges associated with any platform, they become particularly problematic with the mainframe platform. The organization talent pool and knowledge base are shrinking as mainframe professionals retire or move to other areas.

The Path Forward

Mainframe IT leaders must develop overarching strategies to create a more proactive, adaptive environment. To accomplish this, they must implement a framework that includes a solid path to a self-managing mainframe that’s connected to their enterprise. This strategy must incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cognitive operations and analytics.

A self-managing mainframe turns data into insightful information. It automatically identifies, manages, diagnoses, heals and optimizes mainframe systems without manual intervention, enabling IT staff to focus on deploying new business services and other strategic initiatives.

IT leaders can use advanced automation, domain expertise and machine learning to identify and increase areas of efficiency while leveraging analytics to help the mainframe optimize end-to-end processes across the enterprise. A self-managing mainframe serves, protects and communicates for success in the digital economy.

Modernization Is Crucial

IT teams have gone to various extents using automation, analytics, AI and machine learning in attempts to gain more control. The major problem is that organizations aren’t coupling intelligent automation with AI and machine learning. Furthermore, most are only deploying older technologies and silos of automation.

However, you won’t see the full benefit of your AI or machine learning investment without connecting it to intelligent automation. Without the intelligent automation connection, you still need to maintain a highly skilled technical staff to interpret the data and identify the manual steps to implement on the mainframe.

With constrained budgets and skilled technicians, teams might deal with complexity one piece at a time. These organizations are still in a reactive mode, but the goal is to have automated problem determination and remediation with minimal impact to staff. IT teams and executives need analytics capabilities to drive fast decision making.

Some teams might be using partial solutions that provide some analytics but don’t tie enough of the pieces together automatically or in a timely manner. These teams aren’t strategically helping the business grow.

Automated Mainframe Intelligence

The mainframe can contribute to growing a business by doing more of the “driving” for IT. But this requires a paradigm shift toward an approach that leverages cognitive operations, machine learning, advanced automation and real-time analytics that live on the mainframe itself.

To begin the journey to a self-managing mainframe, it’s critical to set a strategy with built-in automated mainframe intelligence. This technology predicts what’s needed, makes resource decisions, sends intelligent alarms, takes actions to fix problems in the environment, solves performance degradations and mitigates cost increases—all while learning and taking automatic actions without manual intervention. And, it’s imperative that analytics and information are provided in real time.

The elements of automated mainframe intelligence include:

  • Data visualization with modern user experiences, fed by data discovery and multiple data sources
  • Intelligent alarms, powered by AI and anomaly detection
  • Predictive analytics, driven by pattern analysis algorithms
  • Problem determination enabled by correlation and machine learning that find root causes
  • Prescribed remediation informed and guided by real intelligence based on prevailing conditions and events.
  • Intelligent automation to keep the environment running securely and at peak performance and efficiency

In addition to applying automated mainframe intelligence to manage your mainframe, it’s important to remember that the mainframe isn’t an island. Automated intelligence connects and integrates your mainframe to the broader enterprise.

The Journey Is Worth It

IT teams can implement a self-managing mainframe at their own pace to gain value immediately in critical areas of interest. Then, the team can expand the scope over time, yielding more self-management in the environment. A self-managing mainframe can free an organization from the vortex of complexity. Those who invest in future-proofing their business in this manner can be confident in managing any future challenges.

With a self-managing mainframe, customer satisfaction will be higher, and risks will be lower. Staffing and IT costs will be highly optimized, helping both the top and bottom lines remain solid. Forward-looking organizations are on the road to accomplishing this vision today.