3 min

How Specialized Services Enable Mainframe Optimization

With mainframe specialists retiring in droves, many organizations need help with strategy, security, modernization and implementation.

If you’re at a technology conference and you stand in the back of a session on mainframes, you may notice that most of the heads of the folks in the room look like mine: full of gray hair. 

Mainframe technology has been around for decades, dating back at least to the 1960s, but that doesn’t mean that mainframes themselves are archaic technology — far from it. While modern mainframes have been built to continue to support older legacy applications (which may give them the appearance of being old), they also support many new open-source tools and languages and fully support the use of containerization and orchestration running in z/OS or Linux environments, allowing them to make application code portable and able to run anywhere.

Many organizations — especially those in finance, retail and government — continue to find that mainframes are the best fit for their IT needs. But it’s growing more difficult for IT teams to hire employees with the specialized skill sets needed to manage them. 

A trusted partner such as CDW can provide specialized mainframe skills that allow organizations to experience the benefits of the technology without having to hire new staff.

A Sound Mainframe Strategy Is Essential

CDW’s solution architects can help IT teams make important, difficult decisions about which direction they want to take — including whether to stay with a mainframe, whether to upgrade existing infrastructure or whether to rewrite and migrate mainframe applications to a public cloud environment. These conversations can have a profound impact on an organization’s future IT operations and infrastructure, making it essential that business leaders have access to expertise they can trust.

During mainframe strategy engagements, we work alongside stakeholders for weeks or months to understand an organization’s unique environment and challenges. After this thorough assessment, we make comprehensive, vendor-agnostic recommendations to set the organization up for success.

Security Services Can Help Bolster Mainframe Defenses

Our enterprise security specialists bring a fresh set of eyes to an organization’s cybersecurity environment. Through a thorough cybersecurity assessment, our team can identify any existing vulnerabilities or gaps and make detailed recommendations to help the organization improve its security posture. For instance, CDW has helped several organizations to encrypt data — not only data at rest in storage environments but also data that is being used live by a mainframe system.

Find the Right Approach to Mainframe Modernization and Hybrid Cloud

Depending on the approach, true mainframe modernization can be an arduous, expensive, time-consuming process, sometimes requiring organizations to rewrite millions of lines of code. While CDW can help with mainframe modernization, we can often find workable alternatives for organizations. One option is a hybrid cloud environment. By using containerization and public cloud resources alongside their mainframe infrastructure, organizations can often achieve many of the benefits of mainframe modernization at a fraction of the cost.

Get Going with Implementation and Staff Augmentation Services

After IBM’s release of its z16 platform last year, many organizations have expressed interest in upgrading to the new infrastructure, which offers features including flexible capacity, advanced dashboards and the ability to be mounted inside an organization’s existing rack infrastructure. We include implementation services with every unit we sell, ensuring that an organization’s mainframe infrastructure is ready to go once it’s installed. For organizations that no longer have in-house mainframe expertise, we also offer staff augmentation services, providing the ongoing management and capabilities needed to maximize the benefits of the mainframe.

Story by Ray Kilgore, who has worked with mainframes for more than 40 years and spent 35 years working at IBM in manufacturing and development, with various customer-interfacing roles such as technical advisor, technical specialist and IBM zChampion. He is a senior solution architect at CDW.

IBM FlashSystem makes it easy to virtualize, manage and modernize your legacy storage systems.