The mainframe today still hosts many of the world´s most mission-critical applications and data, with major enterprises like banks, airlines and telcos depending on it every day to run their businesses.

As part of their digital transformation journeys, they also want to take advantage of cloud computing. They’re hoping to increase business agility, drive innovation, enhance customer experiences and optimize employee productivity. Ultimately, the aim is to effectively manage costs and drive more value from their IT investments.

The problem? New Gartner® research shows that many enterprises often don’t know how to position their mainframe within their overall IT strategy. Another key research finding is that mainframe staffing and skills continues to be an issue with many enterprises.

Here, Petra Goude, Core Enterprise & zCloud Global Practice Leader at Kyndryl, talks about the challenges businesses face in modernizing their mainframes and how Kyndryl can help them navigate the journey.

What are the biggest challenges to mainframe modernization?
With mainframe often being at the core of many enterprises’ hybrid cloud strategies, they are facing an increasing need to transform and modernize their mainframe environments. This can be challenging as they need to continue to run their day-to-day operations.

In addition, organizations often don´t have the skills and expertise to do so, with current teams working on the platform reaching retirement — or they’re lacking a clear strategy and don´t know where to start or what their options are.

We’ve joined forces across Kyndryl to help our customers tackle the challenges around mainframe transformation and application modernization to solve their toughest problems.

Most industry messaging around mainframe transformation is to either “stay on” or “move off.” Why is Kyndryl taking a different approach?
Our strategy and approach are different in that we meet customers where they are — whether they are investors, maintainers or divestors in mainframe — and we help them to determine the right platform for each workload.

The best approach for them may be to either modernize on the mainframe, integrate mainframe applications and data with the hyperscalers, or move workloads off to public cloud — or a combination of this in a hybrid model. We take them wherever they want to go on their transformation journey.

How should organizations start their mainframe transformation?
Success starts with a well-informed strategy and roadmap. It´s important to develop and drive a transformation roadmap that delivers value early and maintains continual operations.

In the latest Gartner report “Fit Your Mainframe Into Your Modernization Plans,” analysts Dennis Smith and Stefan Van der Zijden advise infrastructure and operations leaders to “right-size” the mainframe by conducting a detailed workload analysis, adopt a workload approach based on the five R´s — replatform, refactor, rearchitect, rebuild and replace — and effectively tackle mainframe staffing requirements.

Speaking of the Gartner report, what else do you believe will stand out?
We think another important takeaway from the report is that Gartner advises enterprises to avoid simply "caretaking the mainframe" — they should either retire or leverage it to drive competitive advantage, address the need for mainframe expertise and make it an integral part of their overall hybrid strategy. As the analysts stated, mainframe modernization involves having the technology, the processes and the people.

To learn more, read the Gartner report here

*Gartner, Fit Your Mainframe Into Your Modernization Plans, By Dennis Smith, Stefan Van Der Zijden, 16 November 2022

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