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Taking the mainframe into the cloud

Accessing the mainframe from the cloud allows organisations to jointly leverage new and heritage technologies to more effectively manage costs and compute power.

Johannesburg, 30 May 2022
Read time 3min 20sec
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Kevin Kemp, business development manager: application modernisation and connectivity, Micro Focus.
Kevin Kemp, business development manager: application modernisation and connectivity, Micro Focus.

As enterprises increasingly move to the cloud, it is important for business leaders to understand that mainframes, which have for many years been the backbone of the global financial system, can also be accessed from any computing platform.

This, explains Kevin Kemp, business development manager for application modernisation and connectivity at Micro Focus, allows for the development and deployment of the latest, cloud-ready applications while still enabling the business to derive value from heritage investments. This not only results in more efficient and cost-effective ways to implement new initiatives, but should also significantly improve the customer, supply chain and employee experience.

“It is worth noting that the majority of large banks, for example, still run significant mainframe estates. There are obviously good reasons for this, including the mainframe’s capability to process information, its ability to handle large workloads and process these against tight deadlines, and the strong security within the mainframe architecture,” he explains.

“Remember that compared to the more complex, server-based architectures, the mainframe one is much simpler and therefore lacks many of the vulnerabilities found in the more complicated architectures.”

Kemp notes that mainframes today still process the vast majority of credit card and other financial transactions globally, as well as handling the majority of production IT workloads, adding that this is because they are more secure and more cost efficient than other computing platforms.

Justin Agar, account executive for application modernisation and connectivity at Micro Focus.
Justin Agar, account executive for application modernisation and connectivity at Micro Focus.

Justin Agar, account executive for application modernisation and connectivity at Micro Focus, suggests that decision-makers should consider accessing the mainframe from the cloud in the same manner they consider moving desktop applications to the cloud.

“If you think about it, moving employees from a desktop version of Microsoft Office to the cloud-based Office 365 enables users to do the same work, only more efficiently. If this is the case, it should be clear that moving the host or mainframe access from the desktop to the cloud will enable mainframe users to do the same work they were doing before, but more efficiently. Nothing changes on the mainframe – only the platform from which it is accessed,” he says.

“Remember too that the mainframe has much higher computing power than most commodity servers. Thus, you are able to maximise its ability to compute effectively, while at the same time ensuring you only use this compute power for the toughest and most essential work, while shifting all the non-essential work to the cloud for processing.”

He notes that one of the key reasons for adopting such an approach is that the ability to shift compute power between the cloud and the mainframe gives the business owners the ability to manage their costs far better.

Kemp adds that the flexibility this offers in respect of managing workloads more effectively is critical, as cloud also offers the ability to scale up or down in real-time, unlike mainframes, which is why it is important to save the mainframe for the most essential work only.

“While each environment is different, we have worked with clients who have budgets in excess of R300 million per annum, and combining the mainframe and cloud environments in this manner has reduced the costs associated with a pure mainframe environment by around 30%.”

Recent research shows that modernisation must be continuous and evolving in order to meet the changing needs of today’s business climate. Digital transformation demands a flexible and adaptive strategy aimed at improving results and accelerating time to value. By clicking here, IT leaders can quickly map their current IT estate to their future business strategy – all while finding the right balance between costs, risk and speed.

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