This Is Your Mainframe, All Grown Up
February 17, 2014

Dennis O'Flynn

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During my IT career, I've found myself in various roles across multiple platforms. In that time, there's been one constant that I've observed: There is often a disconnect between different IT teams and across environments. We need to work to bridge those gaps, particularly in the evolving relationship between the mainframe and distributed worlds.

Over time, I've seen a lot of change in the mainframe landscape, though probably none as seismic as its recent integration with modern technologies such as mobile. This need to accommodate distributed, open systems (systems of engagement) alongside the traditional mainframe environment (systems of record) creates a larger need – to bridge that long-standing gap between mainframe and distributed teams.

Your mainframe must now operate across the enterprise, in order to interact directly with users. And that's not going to change anytime soon. And so navigating that divide is no longer an option – it has become a business imperative.

This is the new normal of mainframe.

But how are today's IT organizations troubleshooting enterprise application performance problems?

And managing mainframe resources to ensure efficiency?

In many cases, not very well, with days, weeks, even months, spent in war rooms. Plus, many organizations still approach the mainframe and distributed environments as separate worlds. Given the inter-related nature of today's enterprise, this approach is no longer effective. Now, mainframe and distributed teams need a shared view of IT and must communicate on the same level.

So we thought, in times like these, it would be helpful to have a new maturity model, a guide to helping organizations improve processes amid change. We enlisted the help of Alan Radding, veteran IT journalist and blogger. Together, we created a model that incorporates new mainframe roles and workloads alongside open systems, such as cloud and mobile, while encompassing new tools to address management and operations in this new environment.

With this model we're hoping to help IT organizations improve application performance management – plus the management of mainframe costs – as distributed and mainframe systems continue to converge.

The new model defines the following five categories for maturity across your enterprise, from the hardware and software you're employing to the way your organization is structured and how your teams interact:

- Application Technology

- Mainframe Attributes

- Organization

- Performance Technology

- Process

The 5 levels of maturity that you see in the model range from highly siloed and divided IT organizations (ad hoc), to highly integrated enterprises that effectively support and enhance the business (business revenue-centric).

Of course, there are many challenges to achieving enterprise maturity, such as:

- facing resistance to change

- changing skills as experienced mainframers retire

- management visibility of the expanded IT infrastructure

- end-user engagement

- increasingly complicated troubleshooting

But the end result is definitely worth it. By achieving enterprise maturity, you can ensure that your mainframe is more than just a legacy system. And especially through integration with the distributed side, it can drive your business forward.

Dennis O'Flynn is Director of Product Management for Compuware's Mainframe Solutions Business Unit.

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