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Mainframe maintenance, migration | The Manila Times


OVER the last decade, no other industry has undergone as much change as the information and technology sector.

In what feels like mere moments, systems that were once standard become obsolete, and every so often, upgrades and tweaks are required of every program and application in order to keep functioning at optimal levels.

Our lives have become about discarding everything "old" and adopting "new" methods, models and programs. However, change is never a painless process.

Industry leader Kyndryl, which is currently the world's largest provider of IT infrastructure services, also specializes in assisting companies ease into the transition from legacy systems into more modern computing systems, and it seems a reasonable assumption that such a forward-thinking company would readily recommend that clients scrap outdated systems and switch over completely to cloud-based computing, but that isn't the case at all.

As Petra Goude, the core enterprise and cloud global practice leader at Kyndryl, explained in a recent roundtable interview with local tech media, part of what makes the company so successful is that "it recognizes that drastic radical change isn't always the answer."

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Mysteries of mainframe

When businesses began relying on computers, they found that they needed a system that could handle mind-boggling amounts of data and process information at blinding speed. Thus, the mainframe was born.

The first mainframe filled an entire room and weighed roughly 5 tons. Today, mainframes can be the size of a double-door refrigerator and weigh about as much as a fully loaded car. These are still considered traditional in the IT world, and they're usually tended to by a team of technicians and programmers. Any company that keeps a large system of records, such as banks, hospitals, manufacturers and logistics companies, rely on their mainframe to store, sort, process, and offer up any and all information that goes through their system.

Goude maintained that despite the availability and viability of cloud computing and storage, there is still a place for the mainframe technology.

"The mainframe platform plays a central role in modern businesses for its reliability and stability, and it is often used to host mission-critical workloads, such as production processing and financial transactions," said Goude. "It offers deep interdependencies and comes with legacy infrastructure that has been developed and refined over decades. This complex and interconnected infrastructure can deliver enormous processing power around the clock, enabling high-volume and secure workloads. With its ability to manage large workloads efficiently and securely, the mainframe will continue to maintain its relevance especially in more regulated industries such as banking, manufacturing, and the public sector."

Goude goes on to explain that one of Kyndryl's strengths is "the ability to integrate the mainframe into the core of their clients' hybrid cloud solution strategy." Instead of pushing for cloud-native platforms, the company makes it possible for client partners to "adopt hybrid solutions that transform and modernize their mainframe environments to effectively manage costs and drive more value from their IT."

Doing more, with less

While cloud systems are undeniably becoming the next step in workflow modernization, hybrid systems are easier for companies to acclimatize to, achieving the desired effect with minimal disruption of the business' day-to-day operations.

What's more, Goude said, is that the "reliability and security of the mainframe are crucial factors driving an organization's IT strategy. Kyndryl's role, then, is to create a way that integrates these platforms with other IT infrastructures, such as the hyperscalers' public cloud or distributed environments."

"Many businesses want to take advantage of cloud to increase business agility, drive innovation, and enhance customer experiences, but they often do not know how to position their mainframe within their overall IT strategy," Goude said. "As a result, the mainframe may not be fully leveraged, or workloads can be placed on the mainframe that are better suited on other platforms."

Goude also sees the modernization of a company's mainframe as a step in the right direction. "As organizations embark on or accelerate their journey to cloud, we can help them take a holistic approach to mainframe modernization." In short, Kyndryl meets customers where they are and allows them to decide if they want to modernize applications on the mainframe, integrate them with the public cloud or distributed environments, or move some or all applications off the platform to the cloud.

What's next?

Oddly enough, the mainframe does not seem to be in line for obsolescence any time in the near future. Goude states that "as long as it provides the infrastructure within which many industries function, it can't be done away with."

Instead, the mainframe simply needs modernization. To do this, organizations are looking into how the mainframe can seamlessly integrate with technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence to enhance its capabilities and continue to serve as a vital resource for their businesses.

This understanding of realistic goals and customer-oriented progress is why Kyndryl stands as one of the leaders in the industry. "This is where we can help them to transform their business leveraging technology to drive better and faster outcomes," Goude said. "Mainframe modernization will require the collective effort of the technology, the processes and the people, to drive its competitive advantage and continue to deliver optimal value to the customer."

At the end of the day, it's not just about making big sweeping changes to keep up with the times. It's about striding steadily into the future, maintaining tried-and-tested solutions that have stood the test of time and integrating and improving the same with programs and platforms that add security, flexibility, adaptiveness, or efficiency, as the company sees fit.

We're excited to see a proponent for moderate change that is careful with customers and their own clients while still actively advocating for cutting-edge tech. This is the kind of change we can all get behind.

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