Alan Radding, a 20-year IT industry analyst and journalist, recently collaborated with Compuware Corp. to create a new Enterprise IT Performance Maturity Model. The model helps IT organizations gain maturity in the current IT landscape. Enterprise Executive sat down with Radding and Dennis O’Flynn, director of Product Management for the Compuware Mainframe Business Unit, to discuss industry trends and the new maturity model.

Enterprise Executive: Paint us a broad picture of the current enterprise IT landscape.

Radding: Today’s enterprise IT clearly isn’t your father’s mainframe. Your data center team probably never thought they would be processing mainframe transactions from mobile phones—or running analytic applications against unstructured social media data. And your development team likely never imagined they would be architecting compound workloads across the mainframe and multiple distributed systems running both Windows and Linux. Even your CIO is surprised to find your mainframe is responsible for serving up millions (or even billions) of customer-facing transactions a day.

O’Flynn: Perhaps the most disconcerting change for traditional mainframe shops is that need to accommodate distributed, open systems (systems of engagement) alongside the traditional mainframe environment (systems of record). And with that comes the need to bridge the gap that has long existed between mainframe and distributed teams. In the “new normal” of mainframe, navigating that divide is no longer an option—it has become a business imperative. But how do you do it?

Enterprise Executive: When you say the new normal of mainframe, tell us what you’re talking about.

Radding: The new normal of mainframe basically encompasses a set of new attributes. Mainframe applications that once served only back-end systems are now customer-facing. In addition, complexity continues to rise as more compound and composite workloads span multiple platforms and operating environments. As complexity rises, so do mainframe transactions and MIPS.

Simultaneously, those with the most mainframe experience and knowledge are typically baby boomers who have already begun—and will continue to—retire over the next 10 years.

Enterprise Executive: Let’s talk about the business impact of this new normal of mainframe.

Radding: Mainframe economics have definitely changed over the last few decades. On one hand, things have improved due to the steadily dropping cost per MIPS, as well as the introduction of power-packed, low-cost new mainframes such as the zBC12. And though mainframe data centers have always been under pressure to rein in costs and use MIPS efficiently, these pressures are increasing exponentially as businesses rely not only on the mainframe—but on IT as a whole—to contribute to achieving business objectives.

On the other hand, there’s increasing pressure to streamline operations due to the rise in quantity and type of mainframe workload. Transaction volumes are soaring as new mobile users generate more transactions, 24x7. At the same time, overnight windows for transaction processing are shrinking or disappearing altogether.

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