It’s no surprise the mainframe has stood the test of time. Yet lingering misperceptions about Big Iron are that it supports a black box computing model and is chugging along while sustaining old, albeit critical, data. IT professionals who rely on the mainframe realize that nothing could be further from the truth. The mainframe will continue to be a mainstay in corporate computing environments because of its power, performance, and reliability.
However, three converging factors have led to an increased focus on mainframe modernization:
- Preserving legacy assets: Critical information that has been built up over the years remains vital to the organization’s sustainability, yet this legacy code requires more computing resources because some of the functionality can’t be replaced.
- Sweeping IT initiatives and newer technologies: Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Web services for integration, and other applications are penetrating the infrastructure and need to coexist or integrate with legacy assets.
- MIPS consumption: The rising cost of MIPS continues to grow annually 20 to 30 percent with the associated expenses ranging from $4,000 to $15,000 per MIPS.
All this is happening while IT budgets are increasingly tight and the most knowledgeable, skilled mainframe experts are retiring and taking their knowledge with them. IBM has responded to the challenge of generating interest in mainframe skills among the next generation of IT talent by collaborating with several universities to offer appropriate courses to nurture the necessary skills. However, it remains to be seen how effective such efforts will be as mainframe veterans continue to leave the workforce.
These challenges support a strong case for modernization, especially when you consider it helps to ensure that all resources are used as efficiently as possible. Modernization lets developers fix longstanding issues (perhaps including suboptimal code) and add new functionality.
Defining and Clarifying Governance
Many architects and developers are taking a closer look at the way software is designed and deployed throughout the entire development lifecycle. Specifically, there’s been an increased focus on the role of governance in modernization efforts because of its ability to effectively address the challenges previously outlined. Gartner’s most recent magic quadrant on integrated SOA governance technology pointed to the fact the recession and need for cost optimization, combined with the market’s need for SOA and the “cover your back” mentality, have caused companies to rethink the importance they give to SOA governance and related technologies.
Today, IT architects are more closely evaluating how governance can support and extend legacy-based mainframe applications. To better understand this, let’s look at governance in general and in the context of mainframe modernization.
Essentially, governance is about leveraging standards and best practices that guide, direct, and control how software is developed and deployed throughout the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). It helps ensure and validate that the assets and artifacts inthe architecture are created and deployed using those best practices so an organization can better mitigate risks, including poor performance and decreased reliability and stability.
By prioritizing governance, modernization efforts can more successfully address the mainframe challenges previously outlined. Governance helps an organization:
- More effectively preserve legacy assets
- Extend mainframe capabilities to support new IT initiatives
- Reduce CPU utilization.
The performance gains accrue from identifying bad code before it’s put into production, streamlining the development process, and eliminating redundancies that drain resources.