Don’t Kill Your Digital Transformation with Technology Obsession
Digital transformation is the only means of survival available to monolithic enterprises competing with nimble industry disruptors. But enterprises have something startups don’t: decades of invaluable, mission-critical applications and data as well as unmatched knowledge and experience that can be leveraged to drive digital innovation.
Unfortunately, the motivation to survive can morph into a motivation to conform. Enterprises can be lured into adopting en-vogue technology to modernize the management of mission-critical assets instead of adopting new processes and tools to improve those assets where they already run—often on the mainframe.
Focusing on technology, rather than assets, can precipitate irrational decision-making that hurts the platform enterprises need most. Usually, that means a) letting the mainframe languish while other systems excel or b) attempting risky “rip, rewrite and replace” migrations off it.
Diminished application performance and increased costs resulting from these decisions are big prices to pay for the social benefit of saying your enterprise is using new technology—and that’s something leading DevOps experts would probably consider frivolous, based on insights from the 2017 State of DevOps Report:
“The type of system—whether it [is] a system of engagement or a system of record, packaged or custom, legacy or greenfield—is not significant. Continuous delivery can be applied to any system, provided it is architected correctly.”
Cloud + Mainframe = Success
New technology isn’t bad, but it can be if you prioritize it above customers and above the valuable assets you already have. For instance, the cloud is a powerful, innovation-enabling technology—it certainly can facilitate digital transformation and should be embraced. But when enterprises neglect their mainframes and treat the cloud like a panacea, it only serves to damage their digital transformation efforts.
Instead of straining to abandon the mainframe, enterprises should work to abandon their complex, costly hairballs of distributed infrastructure, like x86 servers, and, under the same Agile and DevOps processes, leverage:
- Mainframes for mission-critical work
- XaaS resources from cloud providers for commodity services
This approach is called Two-platform IT. It lets you separate, but not isolate, corporate necessities like HR and Sales applications from what directly relates to helping you develop and sell more products effectively and efficiently.
Two-platform IT is not the same as poisonous bimodal IT. Two-platform IT advocates for “modernizing legacy assets like COBOL programs in place, by incorporating them into modern hybrid IT architectures and leveraging modern tooling,” as leading industry analyst and agile digital transformation expert Jason Bloomberg writes in “Integrating Legacy Technology into Digital Best Practice by ‘Modernizing in Place,’” (he refers to the concept of Two-platform IT as “digital best practice”).
The Real Issue: Not Your Mainframe
The issue is not your mainframe, but rather making the assets living on that system of record more manageable and more leverageable for innovative customer-facing, digital-transformation projects—96 percent of which the mainframe already supports, according to a Compuware-commissioned Forrester survey on DevOps. To do that, you need modern mainframe tooling.
Topaz and other modern tooling options have been available for some time, but bringing operability of those tools to the cloud improves your ability to modernize legacy assets on the mainframe. Compuware’s collaboration with AWS exists precisely because we believe the mainframe is a platform your enterprise can continue to count on, especially when it’s emboldened to be nimble and adaptable with Agile and DevOps culture, processes and tools as well as through mainframe and non-mainframe partnerships and integrations that extend its value.
No system is perfect, but leveraging the mainframe and cloud together might be as close as your enterprise gets to achieving a technology utopia today. Start leveraging the platforms that help you focus on what matters—digital transformation projects that create raving customers.