mainframe and open systems
April 28, 2016 DevOps, Mainframe Agility

Mainframe Versus Open Systems: The Feud Must End for Big Companies to Be Fast

There’s a longstanding feud between mainframe application development and open systems development teams. Mainframe dev believes slow and steady keeps the company secure, while open systems dev follows a DevOps approach, celebrating innovation, agility and speed.

Opposing dogmas spawn dissension, and that doesn’t make for a productive environment. In fact, disagreement between teams only stifles mainframe application development and obstructs company success. Meanwhile, mainframe applications must be modernized for the value of that investment to continue.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, your company needs to change.

Although your mainframe and open systems teams seem to be on opposite sides of the playing field, the truth is they’re wearing jerseys for the same team. Both are working to achieve business objectives,  they just have different strategies for doing so.

To ensure your mainframe environment remains responsive to the business, you must mainstream the mainframe, and this requires incorporating mainframe applications into broader cross-platform DevOps processes.

What Does Mainstreaming the Mainframe Mean?

The concept of mainstreaming the mainframe flies in the face of conventional thinking about the mainframe’s role in enterprise IT. Many industry pundits and analysts advocate keeping mainframe and open systems siloed from each other—a strategy known as bimodal IT. However, bimodal IT is a dangerous counterfeit solution that will only exacerbate the conflict between mainframe and open systems at your company, impeding the modernization and perpetuation of your mainframe applications.

Mainstreaming the mainframe, on the other hand, liberates the mainframe and puts the care of mainframe code into the hands of talented mainstream developers, data analysts and operations staffs. In this digital economy, big doesn’t beat small anymore—fast beats big. Especially a big house divided against itself. If your mainframe application development isn’t Agile, your business won’t be either.

Your only available solution is to unify mainframe and open systems. It’s crucial for your company to establish regular communication and collaboration between mainframe and open systems from here on out. This coupling will enable both teams to innovate with the same speed and processes, and ensure the swift modernization of mainframe applications to help your company keep a competitive advantage over industry disruptors.

Bridging the Skills Gap Between Mainframe and Open Systems

Bringing mainframe and open systems together also means bridging the skills gap between them. Your company needs a product that allows both camps to work on one common interface able to accommodate each developer’s specific needs, whether it’s COBOL and DB2 or Java and Oracle. Bringing both teams together in this way will enable your company to stay big, fast and ahead of smaller industry disruptors.

What does it look like to be big and fast?

It looks like scrapping old practices, bringing mainframe and open systems together and mainstreaming the mainframe with modern tools so your next generation of developers will be proficient in any language, on any platform. Big and fast means your company will be equipped with the right mentality, tools, processes and organizational unification. Reaching this point is how you’ll deliver what your customers need, but the first step is constructing collaboration, communication and trust between teams.

So what will you choose?

To leave mainframe and open systems siloed and prejudiced against each other, sealing the fate of your company; or to bring mainframe and open systems together, ensuring and sharpening your company’s competitive edge?

You decide.

Photo by Randy Heinitz: Flickr