In BMC’s survey of mainframe customers, cost optimization and reduction have been top priorities for IT organizations since the survey began in 2006. They’re required to reduce their costs and become more efficient and aligned with the businesses they support. Consequently, data centers are becoming more proactive. These priorities ultimately result in more automation. As cross-platform tools become agnostic, they can help with data center evolution by fostering the notion of efficiency across the platforms the IT organization needs to continue supporting the business.
One of the issues with platform agnosticism and cross-platform initiatives is that organizations aren’t yet completely set up to handle single products or single solution sets across those boundaries. Typically, an IT organization handles the mainframe. That group may have a team that handles DB2 or IMS or manages WebSphere, application servers, Windows devices, boxes, and so on. In effect, the organizations themselves may be isolated, and the tooling they use is most frequently also isolated because of their subject-matter expertise in those areas.
Recognize that, higher up in the IT organization, some of the challenges are self-imposed and may require giving at least some thought to the boundary problems that can exist in IT organizations. Try to solve those problems so the IT tools themselves can be more effectively used. Here’s an example related to the deployment of Linux on System z at one company:
The CTO needed a decision tree of new applications. When a new application is being developed, proposed or contemplated, a decision matrix is used. One of the questions in the matrix is, “Will this application use a back-end database; e.g., DB2 or IMS?” If the answer is “Yes,” then, by definition, that new application will run on Linux on System z because it’s close to the back-end databases.
IT overcame some of the organizational challenges about how to manage Linux on System z by letting the distributed people and help desk continue using the tooling they had in the mainframe environment, or Linux on the System z environment. An accommodation was made. Perhaps the CTO would have preferred to have a single toolset from the mainframe that would include Linux on System z, but to solve some of the organizational and political problems that would result, he compromised. The application side gave a little, the IT infrastructure side gave a little, and the effort was successful.
Any change that happens in the data center involves a certain amount of risk. The key is to minimize the risk while maximizing support to the business. That’s easier said than done. But you can minimize some risk by effectively planning and understanding the changes. Capacity management, for example, offers predictive capabilities as a result of just observing IT operations in the systems they manage.
Does it make sense to adopt cross-platform tools in advance of the emerging need to do so? Yes. When you think about the hybrid data center, specifically as it relates to the mainframe, it’s clear that an evolution is occurring with the zEnterprise platform, specifically in the hybrid computing model. It hasn’t reached fruition, but it seems to be emerging in the hybrid data center, which is really the confluence of mainframe technology with UNIX and Linux on what are known as zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) devices. It’s important to evaluate newer technologies for a platform technology in advance of your decision to actually deploy new technologies.
You should understand when change is occurring or imminent. If you can get ahead of the problem, you can begin to adapt before change actually occurs. You can minimize risk and further increase efficiencies by using cross-platform tools.
Reducing risk in the cloud has much to do with being platform-agnostic. If you look at a cloud as a platform, you can ask: Will platform-agnostic tools deployed today alleviate some of the risk and stress of implementing cloud and cloud services? The answer should be, “Yes.” Look at management as the platform. As data centers evolve, even through the cloud, the previously positioned platform-agnostic tools could help you make the transition less risky and, therefore, provide quicker time to value.
As the hybrid data center matures, it will be easier to pick the best platform for the type of work you're running. Workloads and platforms historically have been selected because of their suitability for particular types of jobs. Many workloads were built on platforms that were best-of-breed at the time but aren’t that way today. The hybrid computing model tolerates the differences in applications that cross platform boundaries. This model focuses on having the capability—which includes faster I/O, faster speed, fewer moving parts in the network, and so on—to create a platform out of the set of hybrid platforms that exist in the enterprise world.
Applications span workloads and workloads span platforms. In the future, the hybrid computing model will increasingly present itself as a platform for heterogeneous applications and will, at each step along the way, generate efficiencies from them.
Everything will become faster as the hybrid model evolves. There will be more complexity, more capacity, more speed. The challenges in IT and in business will continue and our goal will be to create efficiencies that outpace and overcome the growing complexities. Cross-platform management tools will help you meet this challenge.