When people hear the term mainframe they typically think of a tall, black computer in a storage closet or some 2000’s pop culture reference (e.g., The Matrix). In reality, people are engaging with technology that relies on the mainframe every day, like when they buy a concert ticket or use an ATM, without even knowing it. Not only does mainframe technology play a central role in the daily operations of most of the world’s largest corporations, but it also is the backbone of many digital customer interactions.
But with the rise of the cloud, and businesses fixated on digital transformation, many are left wondering where the mainframe fits into modern operations. According to a recent survey from Rocket Software, the mainframe is still a core facet of IT infrastructure, with 80% of IT pros reporting the mainframe remains critical to business operations. There is no denying the importance of mainframes within the enterprises that use them – they are still unsurpassed in their powerful capacity and security. However, it is critical that businesses modernize their mainframe technology to keep up with today’s innovation.
Here are a few advantages of modernizing the mainframe businesses can capitalize on.
Modernize, not re-platform
Due to high costs and elevated risk, organizations that rely on mainframes cannot afford to completely make the switch to the cloud. However, for businesses to continue to modernize the mainframe and expand its capabilities, there must be a roadmap where businesses choose to either modernize in place, operate as is, or re-platform. Re-platforming involves removing mainframe infrastructure entirely and replace it with cloud models. Re-platforming, or ripping and replacing technology, causes major disruption to business activity and does not deliver much value in the end — which explains why only 4% of IT leaders say their organizations are going completely cloud native.
Modernizing in place will be the best path forward for most organizations, as it delivers better user experiences and efficiency without the costs and disruption associated with re-platforming. Businesses should leverage their years of technology investments in the mainframe and the latest tools available to create the most effective IT environment for their business.
Unlock new capabilities
Mainframe modernization can help businesses overcome pressing challenges and protect their technology investments. But businesses also have numerous opportunities for improvement when it comes to modernizing the mainframe’s capabilities and performance. For example, Rocket’s survey found that just 24% of organizations have a comprehensive DevOps platform for developing, deploying and managing their mainframe applications. Implementing DevOps functionalities with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) can help with the deployment of new applications to improve value delivery for customers.
Benefits outside of IT
Recent years have seen increasing global disruption. From the COVID-19 pandemic to more industry-specific issues, like cybersecurity breaches and increasing regulation, there has been a lot of uncertainty, and the need for stability has become critical for business continuity.
According to Rocket’s survey, respondents say the top three qualities that contribute to their organization’s reliance on the mainframe are reliability, security, and efficiency. As disruptions persist, organizations will continue to rely on and modernize the mainframe as efficiency is key to agility and responsiveness, and security is the foundation of building customer trust.
Mainframes are the foundation of IT infrastructure thanks to their reliability, security and efficiency. But as digital transformation continues to be a priority for businesses to gain competitive advantage, modernizing mainframe systems will be essential to bring this IT infrastructure into the future.