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New Beginnings on Old Bedrock: Linking Mainframe to Big Data


Following 14 years at CA Technologies, where I held various senior management positions, I joined Syncsort in April of this year. I wanted to become a part of the leading company that is linking Big Iron to Big Data. What will that union yield for the industry, and for me?

I really enjoyed working at CA and learned a lot over the years there. CA is a vibrant, energetic place to work. The employees are smart, the products are good, the installed customer base is amazing and a lot of innovation is occurring. Yes, on the mainframe side of the house too. Last year alone saw three entirely new mainframe products launched, and I am proud to have been a part of the team that did that.

Syncsort is an incredibly interesting company that I had been watching for a while. A forty year old mainframe company that is doing some of the most valuable innovation in the big data space for large enterprises. A few years ago, the company re-invented itself as the company to move mainframe data to analytics environments. Strategic partnerships with Hortonworks, Cloudera, MapR, Dell and Splunk, along with some great innovation by the development teams, has transformed Syncsort into a player in Big Data ecosystem. In fact Syncsort announced record 2015 results, including the promotion of Josh Rogers to CEO to lead the company forward to fully realize the vision and potential that we have for the next few years.

In my last few years at CA I was very focused on the Big Data space and was interested in the problems that CA could solve there. When founder and previous Mainframe GM, Harvey Tessler decided he wanted to retire, I talked to Josh and the rest of the management team and we all agreed that I would be a great fit to take over the reins.

A few weeks into the role here I am thrilled with the decision to join. I love being part of a smaller company again where everything is more agile, just because of the small teams, shared mission and sense of urgency. We can do so much at Syncsort from our position of strength on the mainframe and our expertise in data management.

Having now met with several customers, I have confirmed the pattern of needs that we can address.  Big Data platform ITOA solutions and business analytics are now the norm. Although the market is evolving quickly and requirements are changing, everyone is doing it. Those who still think it’s still just talk are missing out big time. Most of these initiatives are not started by Mainframe IT, but in companies with mainframes, the enterprise teams are now at the point of implementation where they realize that they need the mainframe data for an effective or complete solution.

The broad uses cases that we see include things like real time monitoring of infrastructure or business services and real-time awareness of access activity to help spot breaches in security or compliance. What these cases and others have in common is a deeper contextual analysis that is impossible with traditional, point monitoring tools.  Done right these solutions can be more effective than current practices and reduce cost by saving labor, penalties and software costs.

These same customers currently indicate that they are unlikely to dump the traditional management tools, but I actually wonder about that myself. As practices in data gathering and machine learning mature I think we will quickly see the start of next gen automation that makes the old tools redundant. In the case of the mainframe this may become a necessity when, as an industry, we lose the skills of the baby boom generation and fail to replace the depth of knowledge they have.

By joining Syncsort I have brought myself to the coal-face, where we are mining the black-stuff out of the Big Iron legacy systems. As one of those whose career has been based on the strength of the mainframe, and its continual re-invention, I hope that I can be a part of the next round of evolutionary changes. Changes that will enable the mainframe to serve the industry for a renewed lease of life. New beginnings on old bedrock. The decade of ITOA and the dawning of AI applied to business systems.

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