Mainframe

The New Era of Mainframe and Mobility

How proven technology is the only technology for the global mobile paradigm

It’s no secret—the disparaging things we hear behind closed doors and in darkened IT lunch rooms, the rumors that the mainframe is dead or, at the very least, going the way of the Dodo. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, as it turns out, the mainframe may be the only resource we have to maintain the upward drive of mobile use and the associated data that accompanies it.

This epic tale of the aging superhero, the mainframe, not only proves it has a new lease on life, but also proves that it was never actually in peril. In fact, quite the contrary. The computing power of the mainframe leads many to the conclusion that without it sustaining growth and business process within the mobile space would be damn near impossible.

As we know, IBM triumphantly introduced its newest powerhouse in 2015: the z13. The first new mainframe in several years. What it proved, beyond performance, is that IBM not only still supports the mainframe environment, but it also placed its bets on it, and wholeheartedly invested in its long-term future and success.

Furthermore, with the focus of the IBM mainframe squarely on the usual suspects—banks, insurance companies, airlines and other large organizations—the investment makes sense as these types of organizations continue to invest billions of dollars each year into developing mobile connectivity for their respective clients. This immediately translates to more people using more apps on more phones with more data transactions, every day.

In fact, according to IBM its z13 will not only help detect fraudulent activities in real time—mobile devices being a common target for the ethically corrupt—but also IBM boasts that the system can handle literally billions of transactions generated each day by smartphones and other mobile devices such as tablets.

In the past 24 months we have seen mobile applications truly dominate enterprise space. According to an industry report from the Enterprise Mobility Exchange (EME), mobility spending increased by almost 63% in one year, and as we enter into 2016 that trend shows no sign of slowing down.

The latest edition of the report found that 35.7% of respondents were now beyond the early implementation stage of mobility solutions, with more than 60% of respondents having invested in applications over the last 12 to 18 months, substantially more than the 33.9% that invested in mobile device management (MDM) solutions.

The tipping point has passed—the need for mobility is upon us

With the mid-decade being the perceived tipping point, it’s now evident that companies need—and I can’t emphasize this enough—to be in the mobile space. In fact, no business can afford not to be.

It’s paramount that enterprises understand this need for an ancillary understanding of the business infrastructure requirement. The need to be perceived as the “new” mobile enterprise leads to the creation of mobile apps to continually reach, impress, and thus win potentially millions of consumers.

However, the real issue for all organizations isn’t whether to build mobile apps as this has been the case since at least 2010. The real question enterprises, especially those that have lagged or may be unprepared for a mobile world, must ask themselves today is not whether to invest in building mobile apps, but rather what technologies a business needs to invest in to most effectively get mobile apps out the door.

In addition, as part of the mobile tipping point, most enterprises now find themselves in need of providing greatly increased access to internal and often highly sensitive corporate documents, which end users typically need to share and collaborate on from the “living in the moment” mobile perspective.

It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that the mainframe becomes the lynchpin to enterprise success in the mobile space—introducing the world reality of real-time fraud detection. The z13 will enable companies to analyze every transaction they process in near real time—try to calculate that on ten fingers.

Thus the mainframe becomes the only way to detect instances of fraud in banking, health insurance and other industries. Pre z13, today’s new-school mainframes only enabled companies to process and analyze about half of their transactions in real time. Now, z13 will enable real-time analytics on potentially 100 percent of transactions—that’s a lot of scan and pay apps buying a lot of shoes and matching outfits.

At a maximum 5GHz, the z13’s processor is slower in terms of clock speed than the chip in the z12, but IBM says it more than compensates for that with other improvements. The chip has eight cores compared with six for its predecessor, and it’s manufactured on a newer 22 nanometer process, which should mean smaller, faster transistors.

The end of the world as we know it

So with the ability to process transactions and analyze them in real time, it’s onwards and upwards, right?  Well … I’ve always said that the road to Three Mile Island was paved with good intentions. The technology is not what holds us back from this new world order: it’s simply the understanding of where this new world order will and can take us.

For many companies, a lack of understanding leads to a failure to embrace mobility in its truest form. Furthermore, failing to understand how it can lead to key differentiators in such a competitive marketplace leads to a failure to invest in the right mobile approaches.

Pioneers and early adopters understand that integration into legacy systems is a non issue, data performance and optimization companies can handle that with their digital eyes closed. It’s really more of a marketing scenario: placing investments into programs with the greatest end-user bang for the buck that makes a brand what it is. After all, brand is a simple yet deadly two-sided coin, the message you market versus living up to the message you market.

The good news in all of this is that the mainframe can make your brand a winner all around.

Originally published in DirectionIT magazine, Feb 2016.

Allan Zander
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Allan Zander

Regular Planet Mainframe Blog Contributor
Allan Zander is the CEO of DataKinetics – the global leader in Data Performance and Optimization. As a “Friend of the Mainframe”, Allan’s experience addressing both the technical and business needs of Global Fortune 500 customers has provided him with great insight into the industry’s opportunities and challenges – making him a sought-after writer and speaker on the topic of databases and mainframes.
Allan Zander
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