Editor’s note: This is the second part of a review examining IBM’s new z14 mainframe.
Bringing apps and data to the mainframe for intelligence and insight
z14 customers will be able to leverage an increasing degree of analytics and insight than on prior models. The ability to leverage the analytics capabilities of Watson on IBM’s Z portfolio, not just z14, makes this entire product portfolio uniquely valuable to its users. At IBM’s Z analyst preview, the vendor demonstrated the power of analytics in use cases such as credit card churn, showing how the capabilities of Watson on z14 can provide its users with instant insights so a bot can provide real‐time, targeted offers to potentially unhappy customers to increase customer retention and satisfaction.
Machine learning can not only increase the efficiency of a company’s products and solutions for its customers but also improve the automation of data center infrastructure and reduce the time spent by professionals to manage the functionalities of environments, freeing up time for IT professionals to focus on more pertinent items such as development. Although these capabilities are available on older versions of IBM’s Z, TBR believes these functionalities have been enhanced for the z14.
Multi‐cloud operational analytics from the mainframe control point
Mainframes anchor most large enterprise IT environments. Operational analytics provide the insights necessary to manage, monitor and maintain the environments in real time. While more of the compute and transactional activity takes place via clouds and with multiple devices, there still needs to be a central repository for this operational information, which IBM believes is best served by being hosted on the mainframe. Toward that end, IBM has developed a suite of technologies to facilitate the burgeoning need for a consolidated control point for the digital activity. Specifically, IBM offers the following:
EZSource, an acquisition made by IBM in June 2016, provides a dashboard to mainframe users to simplify application modernization. EZSource was renamed IBM Application Discovery following its acquisition by IBM.
zOS Connect enables its users to simplify management of mobile installments and existing zOS installments within an enterprise. One key advantage of using zOS Connect on z14 is that customers can write applications in their code of choice and zOS will, in a sense, translate it into the proper code language wherever necessary to enable the application.
Blockchain, IBM’s hyperledger technology, provides an irrefutable ledger, which is highly valuable to customers in industries such as banking, manufacturing and healthcare.
With IBM’s Z, customers can both connect and extend by leveraging APIs. This concept is not new to IBM, but z14 increases the performance of its cloud functionalities. For example, z14 provides a secure and central processor through which APIs can be securely exposed at scale. This enhances z14 and IBM’s own cloud service for Blockchain and also streamlines developers’ ability to understand existing programs and connect external services with internal environments and vice versa. Rather than rebuild monolithic applications and retire technical debt, customers can easily extend the life of these proven backbone application layers through simple refactoring, in the language they choose, to refinance the technical debt and cost‐effectively modernize these critical application tent poles. With z14, customers can cut the time it takes to build services by up to 90% leveraging IBM’s APIs and IBM Z. IBM z14 also improves the connectivity of public and private clouds.
Another differentiator for z14 is its ability to leverage microservices to improve the efficiencies of a data center environment. Through z14, application developers are able to leverage the code language they are most familiar with to write microservices or augment traditional applications. Leveraging the company’s related capabilities, such as Application Discovery, zOS Connect and Blockchain, IBM demonstrated how two developers, using different coding languages, are able to write and integrate programs together that will address their key business needs while improving audit trails.
Through its open operational analytics approach (IBM Common Data Provider and OMEGAMON for Application Performance Management), IBM also enables its mainframe reporting and dashboards to integrate with the customer’s entire enterprise IT platform to manage, monitor and maintain by ingesting the transaction data into IBM’s Z operational analytics dashboards. This enables customers to develop a central middle‐office command and control center, monitoring overall application‐level performance and evaluating threats. More importantly for modern IT operations, customers can assign the operating costs back to the specific line‐of‐business (LOB) stakeholders as compute increasingly becomes viewed as an LOB opex line rather than a corporate capex line billed out as interdepartmental cross charges.
Part three: Market implications