Three key things about mainframe access

Johannesburg, 01 Mar 2021
Read time 4min 00sec

A recent survey found that operational efficiency is key for users of applications on the mainframe. The survey, run by Micro Focus and ITWeb, highlighted critical areas that need to be addressed when it comes to mainframe access and security. The outcomes provided good insight into which criteria would be priorities for organisations embarking on a modernisation journey, and thus driving investment decisions both operationally and commercially.

Kevin Kemp, Business Development Manager: Application Modernisation, Micro Focus.
Kevin Kemp, Business Development Manager: Application Modernisation, Micro Focus.

This article takes three of the survey outcomes and examines how South African organisations can be assisted to overcome these challenges – and the role that partnerships can play in helping vendors better service their customers. Over and above challenges around operational efficiency, the survey also revealed where South African organisations were on their POPIA journey as well as concerns around integration of newer technology with the mainframe.

Micro Focus South Africa’s Business Development Manager for Application Modernisation, Kevin Kemp, says for him, the most interesting finding emerging from the survey was that 93% of respondents agreed that they’re concerned about high levels of user frustration owing to lack of operational efficiency, as users demand faster and more modern mechanisms for accessing mainframe applications. Kemp says: “Customer experience is a big challenge that needs addressing. There’s a large concern over operational efficiency, with more than 60% of the survey’s respondents citing this as either critical or very important.”

Companies are worried about their ability to provide services to their customers, both internally and externally. “It seems that CX is driving a lot of demands in businesses – for development, access for data and integration – so that the organisation can improve speed to market, shorten product development life cycles and ultimately better service their end customers. The real driver is the ability to be agile and get to market quicker than their competitors.”

Harish Lala, Regional Head for Africa at Zensar, says: “Organisations’ CX and the ability to meet customer expectations is more key now than ever as a driver for profitability. CX needs to address both business and consumer agility, and recent times have shown that the requirements have evolved beyond heritage technology.”

It also emerged from the survey that only 67% of respondents had embarked on their Protection of Personal Information (POPIA) journey, whereas 20% plan to within the next six to 12 months. Kemp says he finds it concerning that only 32% of respondents have POPIA compliance in place. Lala adds: “POPIA requires organisations to adopt embedded governance and auditability solutions as fundamental to ensure the organisation is compliant.”

Finally, a large proportion – 85% of respondents – say they’re concerned about the lack of integration of terminal-based host applications with mainframe tasks and systems. “Integration with mainframe operational systems remains a top priority, with the majority of respondents seeing this as requiring action. This isn’t referring to the back-end, it’s about the ability to integrate into newer technology so they can benefit from those too,” explains Kemp.

To achieve the desired UX and CX, and address concerns around integration, it’s critical to choose the right partnership that includes both an OEM provider and a professional services provider. He explains: “Such partnerships are required to carry the customer through their entire modernisation journey and apply the right things at the right time. Organisations often don’t have a view of their mainframe despite it representing a considerable investment. They know they need a partner to help them migrate while helping the business leverage it to achieve its KPIs.”

The right partnerships will assist the organisation with compliance, security and technical requirements as well as access to the necessary skills. Partners can assist the client to addresses all of these challenges so they can deliver superior service to the end customer.

Lala says that going forward, the focus will be on keeping the momentum going on an organisation’s modernisation journey. “DevOps is a critical area for the mainframe. We’re always going to be looking at what we can do to get applications off the mainframe.”

Kemp concludes by saying that while the article only focuses on three of the survey’s outcomes, businesses face the challenge of prioritising many other of the survey’s key findings around mainframe access and security. “A good professional services organisation has the ability to identify which key findings are relevant to customers and slot them into their modernisation journey.”

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