IBM Z – Helping Enterprises Adapt to Cloud Modernization

By Charles King, Pund-IT®

Discussions about enterprise systems often focus on traditional, RAS (resiliency, availability, scalability) performance features, with nods toward developing issues, like securing businesses against rapidly evolving security threats. But a vital point that doesn’t get near as much attention as it deserves is adaptability. That is, how best and effectively businesses can integrate existing systems with new, forward-thinking strategies and efforts, like hybrid cloud and application modernization.

That is especially crucial when it comes to enterprise solutions, like IBM’s Z mainframe offerings that support core, business-critical applications and processes. As a result, the company’s new IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center announcement is worth close attention.

Setting the scene

So exactly what is the IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center? As the company notes in its announcement, the Center is a one-stop digital interface where clients can schedule briefings, connect with partners, seek and join workshops, speak with domain experts and find information and resources related to application modernization and hybrid cloud.

In essence, the Center is designed to help customers fully realize and extend the value of their IBM Z environments with new workloads. How does it achieve this? By working with clients to co-create and execute roadmaps to modernize existing apps and data, extend those assets to hybrid clouds, develop new cloud native apps and fully integrate them with existing apps and data already supported on IBM Z.

Is this important to the company’s customers? Apparently so. According to a July 2021 IBM Institute for Business Value survey, 71 percent of respondents said mainframe applications were central to their business strategies. Plus, four of five survey participants said rapid adoption of transformational efforts, including mainframe application modernization and adoption of open technologies, were vital to remaining competitive.

Similarly, another IBM Institute for Business Value survey found that hybrid multi-cloud technologies and operating models delivered significantly higher value than single cloud vendor/platform or public cloud-only approaches.

Considering the key roles that IBM Z mainframes play in many of the world’s largest finance companies, banks, retailers, airlines and other enterprises, the IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center could not arrive at a better time.

The importance of IBM partners

While IBM consulting professionals and teams will lead many of the services and offerings provided, the practical and strategic value that IBM’s partners add to the effort cannot be overemphasized. The ecosystem of IBM partners involved in the Center’s efforts include:

IBM itself will provide domain-specific expertise, including IBM Systems Elite methodologies, demos, trials, minimum viable product (MVPs), workshops and other point services to accelerate digital transformation. Accelerators include system reference architectures and patterns, code snips, sandboxes and other technical solutions. The company will also offer links to IBM’s Skills Academy to help architects and developers with application modernization techniques, and a reference center highlighting relevant client use cases, analyst papers and other materials.

Final analysis

Practically speaking, does the IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center offer enterprise customers anything new or unique? Plus, how big a deal is it, anyway? In short, no, and yes, and pretty big, overall.

At one level, enterprises can and do develop and launch individual application modernization and hybrid cloud projects, sometimes alone and sometimes with the help of trusted vendors and service integrators. The problem is that while many of those efforts succeed, many others don’t. Partly that is due to the sheer complexity that such projects engender. But another point is the often confusing or contradictory narratives offered by some vendors and experts.

In stark contrast, IBM’s deep expertise in Z mainframe systems and hybrid cloud, as well as its decades of experience in consulting services alone and with enterprise-focused strategic partners places the company in an ideal position to vet, manage and deliver the services and offerings provided through IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center.

Could large enterprises chart similar paths and develop like solutions on their own? Maybe so. Can they do it as easily or with outcomes as predictable as those offered by IBM and its strategic partners? That seems less likely. So, yes, the IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center is a pretty big deal.

Overall, these new services and offerings should help IBM’s enterprise customers develop reliable new solutions and replicable processes for modernizing applications and utilizing hybrid cloud infrastructures. Just as importantly, the company and its partners will provide customers the means to adapt IBM Z for new forward-thinking business processes and use cases. That will aid customers in extending their often-substantial mainframe investments in both the short and long terms.

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