Mainframes have changed significantly over the past several decades. So have the strategies and tools that businesses employ to derive the most value from them. With that in mind, here are tips and best practices for modernizing your mainframe.
In some key senses, the mainframes of old have nothing in common with those of today.
Sure, mainframe programming languages are still the same. So are the traditional mainframe operating systems (although Linux is new to the mix, at least for the current generation of mainframe administrators).
But in other ways, mainframes have changed dramatically. They’re much smaller in physical size. You can fit several mainframes comfortably inside a single room – unlike past decades, when you could have fit rooms inside your mainframes. Mainframes today also boast tremendously more processing power than their predecessors.
The most important change of all, however, is that most mainframes now exist as part of the much more diverse infrastructure. Whereas the mainframes of old were the main computational and data processing workhorses of an organization, today’s mainframes run alongside commodity servers, workstations, mobile devices and everything else that organizations now use to build their IT infrastructure.
For these reasons, many of the strategies that organizations used to deploy when managing mainframes no longer work. They need to be modernized.
Modernizing Your Mainframe: Maximizing Effectiveness Today
A thriving mainframe strategy today is one that leverages all parts of the infrastructure, and all available tools, to derive the greatest value. It’s organized around practices like the following:
- Monitoring mainframe data from a central location. It’s neither efficient nor secure to have to log into your mainframe to access its logs while monitoring the rest of your infrastructure’s logs from a different location. Instead, use tools like Splunk to monitor all log data – from your mainframes and everything else – through a single pane of glass.
- Deploy modern analytics tools. Today’s big data landscape offers much more sophisticated tools for analyzing data than those developed to run on mainframes. This is why you should strive to integrate your mainframes with analytics platforms like Hadoop. Don’t leave your mainframe data in a silo.
- Deal with data in real time. Given the enormous size of the data lakes that organizations face today, as well as the key importance of data in driving business operations, processing data in real time is a must.
- Eliminate technical debt. Technical debt – systems that slow down the rest of your infrastructure and drain your organization of efficiency – is a huge obstacle to running an effective business. If your mainframes are poorly integrated with the rest of your infrastructure because they require special monitoring or data transfer is difficult, your mainframes are a source of technical debt. To fix this problem, pay off your technical debt by ensuring that your mainframes are integrated seamlessly with your other IT assets.
- Automate, automate, automate. Today’s IT environments tend to be very large, and employees with IT expertise are rather expensive. You want to make sure that your IT experts can spend their time putting their expertise to its greatest use, rather than performing tedious manual tasks – such as mainframe log analysis – that could be easily automated. This is why automation should be the order of the day when modernizing your mainframe.
In short, your mainframes are not what they used to be – they’re leaner and meaner. And the tools available to you for working with mainframes and the data they store are much more sophisticated than they once were. Maximizing the value of your mainframe requires devising a strategy that reflects the new opportunities available in mainframe environments today.
Watch our recorded webcast: State of the Mainframe for 2017 to get an in-depth look at the survey results and the four trends to watch for in 2017. You’ll also learn how your peers view the future of mainframe – and mainframe-related budgets!