IBM Accelerates Application Modernization with Cloud-Based z/OS aaS Offerings

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  February 23, 2022

“Legacy” systems don’t get a lot of love in the tech industry, mainly because of the way that some vendors derogate the term while hyping their own shiny new products as replacements. But any time that a new server or other data center solution is deployed it becomes, for all practical purposes, a legacy system. Most enterprises understand this and don’t abandon compute platforms without good reason.

Like what? Perhaps the most important point is how and how well vendors adapt well-established systems to support customers’ changing business needs and requirements. The recent announcement of new cloud-based programs and solutions designed to help developers modernize IBM Z applications is a good example of this dynamic and process.

Why modernize?

Successful organizations and dynamic markets never stop evolving, and neither should their IT infrastructures. Multiple generations of new and enhanced data center solutions, and the resulting improvements in process efficiency and performance attest to that point. Other changes occur or are inspired by behavioral shifts, like the broad acceptance of mobile device for business applications and transactions.

However, some new trends and technologies are effectively tectonic, shaking entire industries and economies. Cloud computing and the adoption of hybrid cloud environments where organizations blend on premises and public cloud infrastructures is among the most recent of those new approaches.

Adapting or updating legacy platforms and business applications to take advantage of fresh approaches, including newer programming languages, frameworks and infrastructure platforms is central to hybrid cloud modernization. Some have compared it to remodeling or renovating an older building, and that is correct in terms of how modernization efforts can extend the lifespan and value of existing systems and applications.

However, an equally important if less discussed point is how organizations can ensure that crucial employees, including developers and teams, have access to the tools and solutions they need to transform existing applications and processes, or create entirely new modern solutions.

That issue is central to the new IBM Wazi as-a-Service (IBM Wazi aaS) on IBM Cloud.

IBM Wazi aaS: Enhancing developer experience/efficiency via IBM Cloud

So exactly what is the new IBM Wazi as-a-Service? Available as closed experimental beta, it will bring z/OS capabilities from the IBM Z-focused Wazi Developer solution the company introduced at Think 2020 to IBM Cloud for the first time.

That 2020 offering, the IBM Wazi Developer for Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces (Wazi Developer) was designed to accelerate the modernization of IBM Z applications by helping new developers adapt to the mainframe ecosystem, use modern programming languages and familiar cloud native tools for hybrid development. The offering accomplishes this in large part via personalized and dedicated z/OS sandboxes — Wazi Sandboxes — running on Red Hat OpenShift on x86 to enhance cloud-native development and testing processes.

The new offering takes this several steps further by delivering IBM Wazi as-a-Service (Wazi aaS) using IBM Z technology to deliver IBM z/OS development and test on IBM Cloud. Developers involved in IBM Z modernization will be able to access and self-provision z/OS Virtual Server instances on IBM Cloud with whatever combination of resources their projects require.

In addition, the company announced that a new IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Stack is scheduled to be available on March 15. offering is a “software-based” solution optimized for Red Hat OpenShift that can run on-prem or on a public cloud. The new stack is the first set of capabilities in support of the recently announced IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center, and is designed to help clients:

  • Simplify access to applications and data through secure API creation and integration
  • Leverage agile enterprise DevOps for cloud native development via open tools and rapid application analysis
  • Standardize IT automation with access to open-source environments, including Kubernetes.

Together with Wazi aaS, these offerings provide development flexibility and choice with each offering sharing the same automated CI/CD pipeline.

Final analysis

Critics might claim that offerings like Wazi aaS are short-term fixes for legacy systems that are declining and destined for obsolescence However, that perception ignores the strength and security the mainframe platform offers for processing business critical transactions and the robust sales growth that IBM Z continues to enjoy. Just as importantly, IBM’s new solutions are clearly focused on addressing a key concern for many enterprises—how to find, hire, train, empower and keep highly talented developers.

In short, IBM has designed Wazi aaS as a practical solution for enhancing developers’ speed and agility, accelerating DevOps practices and reducing the need for specialized skills. By doing so, the company is also helping Z mainframe customers achieve hoped-for business and application modernization goals, while at the same time substantially extending the value and life span of their legacy IBM Z mainframe investments.

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