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Wazi aaS: The Next Step in Modernization

Last week, IBM announced the next step of its roadmap to bring IBM Z and IBM Cloud closer together: Wazi as-a-Service (Wazi aaS), which will bring z/OS development and test as-a-service to the public cloud for the first time ever. To get more insight on what this announcement means for the future of IBM Z and modernization, we chatted with Tarun Chopra, vice president, IBM Z Hybrid Cloud.

According to a recent IBM Institute for Business Value study, 71% of responding executives say mainframe-based applications are central to their business strategy. When it comes to digital transformation and modernization, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. But post-pandemic demand for hybrid cloud has clearly demonstrated the value of modernization using IBM Z and IBM Cloud.

Using a hybrid approach, businesses can keep their workloads where they operate best—in the cloud, on-premises or at the edge. “Clients love the mainframe’s strengths: reliability, availability, resiliency. They love cloud from an agility perspective—speed to market, time to value. So, when you bring those two together, you get the best of both worlds,” says Chopra.

By extending dev and test to IBM Public Cloud with a z/OS Virtual Server Instance running on IBM Z, clients can move faster, accelerate the development cycle and increase velocity. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the key benefits.

Increased Speed and Agility

Business for IBM Z clients is changing rapidly, especially since the pandemic began. As more and more applications are brought to cloud environments, the back end remains in mainframes. That’s where Wazi aaS comes in, helping to simply mainframe application development and test using the cloud. “This latest announcement really helps solve that critical pain point,” says Chopra. With on-demand access to z/OS dev and test, the new solution will help clients accelerate their application modernization journeys and business transformation.

Accelerated DevOps

Wazi aaS is designed to help developers accelerate DevOps processes with predictable and flexible consumption-based pricing. Today’s developers need easy access to the IBM Z platform for educational purposes as well as application modernization purposes. “We’re making sure that all the modern tooling is available for developers and making it easier for them to get access to the Z resources in a cloud-like fashion,” says Chopra. In some cases, the performance in internal test runs has been up to 15x faster than other DevTest environments in the marketplace—a huge productivity and performance improvement.

Reduced Need for Specialized Skills

In a traditional mainframe environment, having access to DevTest environments can be cumbersome; it takes the efforts of system programmers and operators, as well as the right capacity and infrastructure. The whole development process can take weeks—sometimes months—to get up and running.

Now, Chopra says, “Anyone with the right credentials can go to IBM Cloud and quickly provision Z resources and, more importantly, rapidly test applications, develop applications and bring those applications back into their on-prem environment for very rapid production deployment.”
With this announcement, IBM has significantly reduced the time to get access to z/OS development and test environments from days or weeks down to six minutes or less, according to results from two IBM cloud production sites.

The Value of Collaboration

IBM is also working with partners like TCS and BMC to help clients accelerate the modernization of applications, data and processes in a hybrid cloud architecture. “This announcement isn’t just about technology,” notes Chopra, “It’s about the whole ecosystem around the platform.”

Chopra says collaboration and understanding the needs of clients is critical in today’s rapidly changing ecosystem—and in the vast space of IBM Z and the mainframe. “If we don’t effectively communicate with clients, partners and the rest of the ecosystem, we’ll just miss the mark,” he says. IBM’s clients identified two key needs: modern tooling for DevOps and easy, cloud-like access to IBM Z resources. And IBM listened, focusing on ways to consistently modernize the Z platform and its applications as well as merge them with the cloud. “The credit goes to our clients,” says Chopra. “They really pointed us in this direction.”

The Way Forward

To keep up in today’s market, businesses need to constantly adapt. By modernizing and optimizing code, introducing agile tools and bringing in a broad ecosystem of partners, IBM seeks to help businesses easily stay innovative. And bringing dev and test to the cloud fits right into that narrative. “The Z platform is known for constant transformation,” reflects Chopra. “To me, this is the next chapter in our franchise—innovating our platform to the next level of business needs, the next level of consumption models, the next level of innovation.”