The mainframe has a growing role to play in a world of digital transformation where the customer is king.
By Gerard King, CA Southern Africa’s mainframe pre-sales and support engineer
Businesses around the globe, small and large, are continually striving for customer centric strategies that enhance competitive edge and growth. Indeed, any company not focused on continually examining, upgrading, and strategising its systems and practices to engage and keep customers is possibly not going to survive the digital revolution.
The mainframe arena is no exception to this trend. Customers’ requirements and experiences are compelling many companies to examine and implement digital transformation initiatives.
Today’s customers are digitally savvy, have many choices and exercise them in the face of bad experiences with a supplier, be that a bank or insurance company etc.
This is where the mainframe comes into its own through its integration into the connected cloud ecosystem which is mission-critical.
The mainframe is part of a hybrid IT and multi-cloud world. CA Southern Africa enables companies to embark on the frictionless digital transformation journey necessary to seize the opportunities presented by digital transformation and the application economy.
For mainframe to continue to grow into this brave new world, organisations need to understand the strategic value and power of their investment in the tools and training necessary to ensure a culture of mainframe vitality. Only in this way will the industry continue to deliver the value vital to the businesses it supports.
This is where true business vision enters the picture. Companies need to grow the skills necessary to reap the benefits that integrated mainframe and customer centric strategies can realize.
However, integration and customer centricity can be hindered by workforce composition. This is where mainframe discussions often degenerate into a morbid discourse around an ageing-skills base close to retirement and with that the loss of precious skills.
Whereas younger technicians are alleged to appear more attracted to, and familiar with, distributed environments.
The good news is that the skills gap is narrowing due to various factors including opening up the mainframe.
Initiatives such as Zowe – which is an open-source framework launched by the Open Mainframe Project with foundational technologies contributed by Broadcom, IBM and Rocket.
Zowe enables development and operations teams to securely manage, control, script and develop on the Mainframe like any other cloud platform. This provides users with a choice of tools beyond the traditional ones. New and experienced mainframe users can employ modern tools and frameworks such as Jenkins, GitHub and more.
The gap is being further narrowed by operational intelligence (OI) which utilises AI and machine learning to analyse immeasurable amounts of data.
In turn, OI delivers practical insights that can be actioned upon by staff who are not mainframe experts.
Automation can also be leveraged to perform tasks and enable the system to identify issues, diagnose problems and take steps to heal itself – without human intervention.
In Broadcom’s defined culture of mainframe vitality, younger and older programmers thrive, seeing no distinction between interactions with different platforms and it further predicts that enthusiasm for the mainframe will grow as the next generation of programmers are able to explore its potential readily and seamlessly.