Mainframe Renaissance Accelerates
Apr05

Mainframe Renaissance Accelerates

For the better part of 40 years I’ve been updating the mainframe’s obituary, but like Monty Python’s infamous ‘flesh wound’ skit, it has continued to linger on. Now – even with the accelerating skills shortage – it appears that Big Iron is back with a vengeance, gaining more new customers than are moving off the venerable platform, attracted by its brute power, flexibility and security. It seems cloud, mobility and customer empowerment are all better on the mainframe. Mainframe software ISV Compuware has been seeing the growth in the market, and it’s recent survey provided empirical proof, said CEO Chris O’Malley. He told IT Trends & Analysis that everyone who was using “a hope-and-pray strategy that the mainframe would go away” are being disappointed. Not only are organizations “walking away from trying to shift from the platform,” but the mainframe is growing in popularity. “We’re also seeing things like mobile and analytics causing new workloads to be moved to that platform.” This mainframe renaissance is atypical of the IT industry, where vendors are always searching for new, better and different, and dumping commodity hardware. It wasn’t that long ago that rumors surfaced that like its PC, printer and server businesses, Big Blue’s mainframe unit was up for sale. But that was then, and now, Big Iron is once again big. “You remember the mainframe, that platform that supposedly was dead back in the 1980s,” recently asked analyst Rob Enderle, Enderle Group? “Well, once again IBM showcased there is evidently life after death because that puppy grew more than a whopping 70 percent year over year.” Not only is the mainframe alive and kicking, it’s also drawing interest from unexpected quarters. IBM’s “Master the Mainframe” annual contest designed to teach students to code and build new innovations on the mainframe drew almost 17,000 students this year. “A look at the demographics of this year’s event reveals some real eye-openers: 80% of the registrants were new to the program; the average age was 22 – with participants as young as 13 and as old as 68; and 23% of participants were female,” noted analyst Billy Clabby, Clabby Analytics. The Compuware study, conducted by Forrester Consulting, found that 72% of customer-facing applications are completely or very dependent on back-end mainframe workloads, and users are running more of their critical applications on the platform – 57% of enterprises with a mainframe currently run more than half of their business-critical applications on the platform — with that number expected to increase to 64% by 2019. “Before the advent of Linux on the mainframe, the people who bought mainframes primarily were people who already had...

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…Compuware Introduces Topaz on AWS…

If you asked me three years ago what I thought of Compuware, I would have described it as “a point product company in managed decline.” At the time, Compuware was bifurcated between mainframe point solutions and application performance management software. Sales had softened; it was slow to release new products; and its portfolio was “stagnant.” In short, the company was struggling. But, in late 2014, everything changed for Compuware with a cash investment infusion; the hiring of a new, more focused management team; major changes in company culture (including a stronger emphasis on innovation); and the introduction of a new strategy with a strong focus on Development/Operations or DevOps, build/deploy; data management and cybersecurity. Accordingly, I wrote a report at the end of 2015 that described the new Compuware. Nearly two years later, I see Compuware as a company focused on making it easy for customers to consume its product offerings – while at the same time being optimized to create new products and services. Its two most recent announcements include expanded Topaz on AWS (Amazon Web Services) solutions support for CloudBees Jenkins Enterprise. To read the complete article, CLICK HERE NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT...

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Will Cloud DevOps Re-Energize ‘Big Iron’?
Oct05

Will Cloud DevOps Re-Energize ‘Big Iron’?

Not only has ‘Big Iron’ shrugged off its naysayers — suffering neither Monty Python’s ‘flesh wounds’ nor Mark Twain’s ‘reports of my death’ — the mainframe appears to be poised for a renaissance, one that software developer Compuware hopes to accelerate with its recent DevOps announcement for Amazon’s popular AWS cloud platform. “We’ve made Topaz [its flagship solution for mainframe Agile/DevOps] into what customers are evaluating and incorporating as a force multiplier,” said CEO Chris O’Malley. “The next step is bringing Topaz to AWS,” he told IT Trends & Analysis, accelerating DevOps availability to “minutes instead of months. In some cases, it can take more than a year for competitive products.” The mainframe, or at least IBM’s version, has been a staple of IT for more than 50 years, and it shows no signs of disappearing. The numbers speak for themselves: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However the installed base appeared to be shrinking as newer, less-costly alternatives proliferated. Annual mainframe system sales have declined from a high of about $4 billion earlier this decade to $2 billion in 2016, accounting for just 3% of IBM’s total revenue (although the associated hardware, software and technical services accounted for nearly 25% of IBM’s sales and 40% of its overall profit last year). Apparently Big Iron is back in vogue. According to a new study, the global mainframe market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 2.58% between 2017-2021. In March it was reported that mainframes had reached an inflection point where they will either continue as a revenue-supporting mechanism or evolve into a revenue-generating platform. “IDC believes that the mainframe has a central role in digital transformation; businesses that do not take advantage of its broad range of capabilities are giving up value and, potentially, competitive advantage,” the research company stated. ‘The mainframe is not going away, but the way that you use it will change,’ noted Robert Stroud, Principal Analyst, Forrester, in a blog entitled DevOps And The Mainframe, A Perfect Match?. ‘Containers and microservices are coming to every platform, including the mainframe. Gradually breaking large monolithic applications into smaller services will help you transition to a containerized future that promises faster application delivery, greater scalability, and better manageability – regardless of the platform.’ A month ago IBM refreshed its z series mainframes with the LinuxONE Emperor II. “LinuxONE is a highly engineered platform with unique security, data privacy and regulatory compliance capabilities that doesn’t require any changes to developer or open source code, combined with...

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Compuware Revs Up Mainframe Threat Detection By 30%
Apr06

Compuware Revs Up Mainframe Threat Detection By 30%

It is generally accepted that the mainframe, AKA Big Iron, is the most secure IT platform available, and a significant reason why: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However, the things which are driving today’s dominant IT paradigm, digital transformation — cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and analytics (BDA), mobility, social media and security — are also increasing the mainframe threatscape, and Compuware is trying to do something about that. “It is the most secure platform by far,” said Compuware CEO, Chris O’Malley. But breaches happen, he tells IT Trends & Analysis, although most of these things that happen can be prevented. “Most of the breaches are from the inside.” That was the challenge a customer presented to Compuware, identify where and how recurring breach was taking place. The mainframe software vendor’s response led to Compuware Application Audit, a cybersecurity and compliance solution that ‘enhances the ability of enterprises to stop insider threats by fully capturing and analyzing start-to-finish mainframe application session user activity.’ The new standalone solution is a one-stop shop to: -detect, investigate and respond to inappropriate activity by internal users with access; -detect, investigate and respond to hacked or illegally purchased user accounts; -support criminal/legal investigations with complete and credible forensics; and, -fulfill compliance mandates regarding protection of sensitive data. A year ago the company partnered with CorreLog to provide a similar set of capabilities by integrating Compuware’s Hiperstation Application Auditing solution with CorreLog SIEM Agent for z/OS. The new solution brings a number of advantages, including collaborations with CorreLog, Syncsort and Splunk, to enable it to be integrated with popular SIEM solutions such as Splunk, IBM QRadar SIEM and HPE Security ArcSight ESM. While cybersecurity is not and won’t be a core focus of the company, Compuware Application Audit continues the company’s recent practice of making a major product introduction every 90 days. “We’ve put in more innovation in the last 10 quarters than our competitors have done in the last 10 years,” said O’Malley. The mainframe computing environment, with protocols dating back decades, is a new frontier of exploration for both the White Hat (ethical) and the Black Hat (criminal) hackers. “Ultimately we want people to understand that, because of its widespread usage as a core system in many critical infrastructures from finance to air travel; its relative obscurity; and lack of real wide-spread exposure to the hacking public; this system is rife with opportunities to be further secured and hardened.“  Chad Rikansurd (@bigendiansmalls) What he’s saying is that mainframe computing environments...

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The Mainframe Is Dead, Dying… or DT/DevOps-ing?
Jan19

The Mainframe Is Dead, Dying… or DT/DevOps-ing?

For decades pundits and competitors have been writing off the mainframe, AKA Big Iron, and while its market share has been eroded by newer platforms — as befits an industry where ‘what have you done for me lately’ is right up there with ‘Moore’s Law’ as Revealed Truth — it’s still alive and kicking: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However at least some are arguing that despite its age — now in its ‘50s — the venerable platform that IBM powered to success is finding new life with a couple of the current industry darlings, Digital Transformation and DevOps. First, some industry factoids: the latest quarterly server data (3Q16) showed a drop in shipments (-2.6%) and revenues (-5.8%) year over year, with IBM plummeting -33% (to $889 million). However the datacenter systems market is expected to grow 2.6% this year, to $176 billion, which should benefit mainframe sales. According to many, the future does look brighter for the mainframe. When not pointing out HPE’s perceived faults, analyst Rob Enderle (and former IBMer) has covered Big Blue extensively and recently (October) noted that developments like cloud, analytics, Linux and Blockchain are offering new optimism for the embattled platform. ‘Suddenly, mainframes are not only not obsolete, they are cutting edge, go figure. Yep the mainframe is back, with a vengeance.’ Reporting on IBM’s annual year-end recap for the Systems group, analyst Joe Clabby, Clabby Analytics, noted that the mainframe’s future is positive. Big Blue was emphasizing Blockchain and HSBN (the company’s “high security business network”). ‘Blockchain serves as the basis for creating a new way to perform transaction processing, one that features a secure “open ledger” that is shared amongst all concerned parties during the transaction. This new approach streamlines transaction and business processes and enables significantly greater security that traditional approaches.’ IBM claims that it is making solid headway with this offering in the securities, trade, finance, syndicated loans, supply chain, retail banking, public records and digital property management industries. ‘For over 20 years, ever since industry pundits in the mid-1990s forecast the demise of the IBM mainframe, Clabby Analytics has taken the position that there is no other architecture better suited for processing secure transactions (and now in-transaction analytics workloads) than IBM’s z System. ‘Given this position, we see IBM’s new LinuxONE mainframe servers as ideally positioned to support a projected major market move toward Hyperledger and Blockchain transaction processing over the coming years. This movement should greatly escalate the sale of mainframe servers. Long live the mainframe!’ Released...

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