Scale up, down … and horizontally

Johannesburg, 18 Jun 2021
Read time 3min 10sec
Kevin Kemp, Business Development Manager: Application Modernisation, Micro Focus.
Kevin Kemp, Business Development Manager: Application Modernisation, Micro Focus.

There’s been a lot of talk about how hyperscalers AWS, Azure and Google can assist organisations in scaling their mainframe capabilities. The ability to scale horizontally is starting to come to the fore as an important component of facilitating the journey to better operations.

Kevin Kemp, Business Development Manager: Application Modernisation at Micro Focus South Africa, explains: “One of the ways of approaching digitalisation is to use a hyperscaler to move all or part of your mainframe into the cloud. As one of several modernisation routes, hyperscalers are giving companies the ability to create future architectures that can enable their digitalisation journey. A key element of this is horizontal – or cross-platform – scalability.

Alliances between hyperscalers and systems integrators are helping enterprises to drive horizontal scalability as accelerated demand for digitalisation has given more impetus to the whole modernisation journey.

A cloud-first modernisation strategy poses a massive decision for companies, especially when their existing core architecture still works just fine. But as the pandemic has highlighted, there has been a rise in digital transformation projects as companies set up new ways for their employees to work. And while the majority of companies have a cloud strategy in place, the key is modernising current investments, rather than taking a rip-and-replace approach.

This enables companies to start implementing strong DevOps processes across the entire infrastructure, no matter the processing or development language. This ability to implement consistent DevOps processes across platform, infrastructure and database is one of many drivers for horizontal scaling.

“The mainframe has always been scalable from an upsize perspective, the challenge has been to make it horizontally scalable – ie, cloud-ready. This requires a move towards being able to scale the platform as well as its capability. This means being able to move what’s on the mainframe to other platforms and back again for different types of workloads. A hybrid IT environment must be able to integrate and collaborate across hardware and software.”

Why does this matter? Well, one of the biggest challenges faced by companies is that often their mainframe costs are clearly defined and managed through contracts with their providers, but the minute they exceed the predetermined processing limit, the cost becomes exponentially more expensive. This can make it extremely difficult for companies to manage critical operational processing at month-end, for instance, and can end up costing them a fortune. But if they’re able to scale that operational function onto another platform for the required period, it can significantly reduce that expense.

“We’re entering a new phase in mainframe modernisation. Until now the focus has been on eliminating the risk around a shortage of developer resources who can work on the mainframe. However, there’s an increasing focus on the digitalisation of companies and how the mainframe can support that journey, enabling existing core systems to work alongside modern technology. Companies want the faster development and innovation that the cloud can provide.”

This is where hyperscalers are making a huge impact, helping customers to define their future digital architectures that will sit on both the mainframe and cloud, thus enabling them to scale horizontally, retaining their core architecture while benefiting from modern technologies. The main driver for the organisation should always be to gain operational improvements; it’s not just about cost-to-company and addressing a shortage of developer resources, highlights Kemp.

Read this Gartner report for more information about application modernisation and connectivity.

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