Renewing the Mainframe
November 28, 2022

April Hickel

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Many have assumed that the mainframe is a dying entity, but instead, a mainframe renaissance is underway. Despite this notion, we are ushering in a future of more strategic investments, increased capacity, and leading innovations. Fast-growing organizations are meeting this progression with new approaches to improve their agility and speed while entirely integrating the mainframe within their enterprise systems and mechanisms.

According to the 2022 BMC Mainframe Survey, a study conducted of more than 1,000 mainframe and IT professionals globally, over 60% of respondents reported that their investment in the platform is increasing. These increases tie directly to changing workloads on the platform as transaction and data volumes and the number of databases increase more rapidly — and unpredictably — than ever before. This only further illustrates that capacity is growing across all sizes of mainframe shops.

To set the pace, strong organizations have strategically integrated their mainframe with their enterprise processes. Enterprises are prioritizing their efforts on developing software more quickly and more often. They are also achieving higher quality releases with DevOps and AIOps to improve performance, availability, security, and compliance to effectively secure mainframe environments. Mainframes play a valuable role in enterprise innovation to deliver real-world results. The survey shows that adopters of AIOps and DevOps are seeing clear value from their investments, and the adoption of new tools and processes in key areas like DevOps, DevSecOps, and AIOps all increased from the previous year.

Additional survey findings include:

■ 65% of respondents report the combined use of AIOps in their mainframe and distributed environments. With the increase in AIOps adoption, more enterprises include mainframes in their enterprise wide AIOps initiatives, reinforcing the mainframe as a valuable platform for innovation.

■ 70% of large organizations reported DevOps use within their mainframe environment.

■ For the third year, security and compliance lead the list of priorities for mainframe organizations, with 67% of respondents citing both as top issues, a 6% increase over last year.

In AIOps, adoption is growing as implementation barriers decline. The mainframe is moving firmly into enterprise AIOps, as witnessed by the decreased use in non-mainframe environments and increased use in combined environments. The adoption of DevOps on the mainframe also continues to be a trend, as DevOps and collaboration deliver real-world results.

Finally, there is a growing awareness of the need to effectively secure mainframe environments, especially as the mainframe becomes a more integral part of enterprise security initiatives.

A Familiar Interface for Mainframe Development

Timely responses are a must when meeting the expectations of large companies. The survey shows that four out of five organizations look to update applications more often, with 14% updating their mainframe applications each day. However, attracting, onboarding, and retaining talent can be a challenge. Older mainframe code can be complicated and a majority of colleges and universities have abandoned the "green screen" teaching method in modern integrated development environments (IDEs) like Visual Studio Code (VS Code). As a matter of fact, the 2022 Stack Overflow Developer Survey found that almost 75% of respondents said they used VS Code in the past year and plan on continuing to work with it in the future.

In order to meet expectations for faster software delivery life cycles and beat staffing challenges, companies are integrating tools that get rid of obstructions that prevent a wider array of developers from accessing the mainframe. It holds true that developers should be able to leverage interfaces that are easy to comprehend and utilize while having the ability to troubleshoot code on even the most advanced systems.

An improved developer experience not only helps attract new talent to the mainframe; it also gives both new and seasoned developers a familiar environment to work in, decreasing onboarding time and enabling them to be more productive, faster.

The Renaissance Prevails

The mainframe platform is evolving at a rapid pace as more organizations apply an open-borders approach that utilizes mainframe, distributed, and cloud systems across applications. It is essential to fully integrate the mainframe with enterprise development and operations practices to ensure agility, resilience, and security while making work on the mainframe seamless.

April Hickel is VP, Intelligent Z Optimization and Transformation, at BMC
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