3 Compliance Strategies For Your Mainframe Applications

In a recent news release, Andrew Wickett from Micro Focus discusses the challenges of mainframe compliance and offers some advice on ways to reduce compliance costs.

He notes that, compliance requirements depend on a company’s business and industry but are becoming an ever increasing issue to IT executives. Compliance with: data privacy regulations, SEC regulations and mobile payment protections are some of the challenges that organizations face. These compliance requirements come with lots of effort and at a high cost.

Ensuring compliance in your mainframe environment introduces a number of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is managing the need to maintain a steady state environment, while also trying to innovate IT. Most IT department’s budget are dedicated to maintaining their systems “as is” and not geared toward new projects and applications.

Mr. Wickett points to the following causes of mainframe compliance issues:

Poor visibility: Missing mainframe code documentation, concerns over internal resourcing, and data privacy all pose challenges when updating core applications for compliance. These affect how quickly companies are able to identify specific areas of code impacted by the compliance change.

Unsupported mainframe products: When software vendors consolidate or “sunset” product lines, then IT teams must initiate major projects to deal with the compliance issues of running unsupported products.

Security issues: IT teams are under constant pressure to ensure regulatory reporting and compliance for data breaches, while also trying to prioritize new initiatives and projects.

Cloud compliance: As companies continue to move into the cloud and provide mobile availability, they need to ensure their cloud environments are as secure as their current mainframe systems to maintain proper compliance.

Smaller skill sets: Most organizations have fewer available skilled mainframe resources to handle new IT compliance needs.

Mr. Wickett suggests the following 3 strategies for lowering costs associated with IT compliance:

1. Avoid replacing products 

It is usually more costly and risky to replace legacy systems with newer applications. The “rip-and-replace” approach can result in project failures or projects that are delivered late and over budget. Organizations should consider a mainframe modernization strategy that helps to gradually change their applications using smarter analysis, development, and testing technology.

2. Leverage automation 

Automation can create repeatable steps for updating mainframe software in order to meet compliance requirements.  Application-understanding technology allows developers to focus on impacted areas and reduce the learning curve associated with unfamiliar code. This helps them to keep up with changing compliance requirements by finding the code, fixing it, and testing it.

3. Careful testing 

Testing mainframe applications must also be carefully handled to avoid introducing failures and breaching existing regulations. Employing tools that allow for a flexible approach to testing and deployment of core systems, in accordance with data regulations, would be a big part in delivering compliance efficiently.

Click on the links to find more information about outsourcing your mainframe environment and the different types of mainframe hosting.

Avis Is Moving To Linux On The Mainframe

A recent WSJ article reveals that Avis Budget Group has decided to move to Linux on their mainframe environment. Avis is hoping to achieve lower software costs and gain additional flexibility by moving from their z/OS operating system to their mainframe’s Linux environment.

CIO Gerard Insall, indicated that this planned migration has been driven by a significant increase in on-line traffic to their system. Under their z/OS system, these increases in internet traffic translate into additional mainframe utilization and thus higher processing and software costs.  Mr. Insall is projecting that this move will cut his software costs by 50% or $8M annually. The move will also allow him to install Linux virtual servers quickly when capacity becomes limited.  Since Linux also operates on other platforms it will allow Avis to explore new hardware/software options should the need arise.

IBM indicated that 80% of their top 100 mainframe customers have utilized Linux in some form. IBM also said that about 50% of their new mainframe installs have Linux running on them.

If you are thinking about re-hosting your mainframe or outsourcing your mainframe, then you might want to download our executive guide on mainframe outsourcing.

Mainframe Storage Moving Into The Cloud

CA Technologies recently announced that it will be partnering with Microsoft to offer a cloud data storage solution for System z mainframes. The new service is the first of what CA said will be a line of cloud software for mainframe environments.

The new service is focused on providing cloud based storage for mainframe environments. The aim of the project is to give businesses more flexibility to meet the dynamic needs of storage capacity. Customers will be able to acquire just the right amount of capacity they need. This will hopefully help them to avoid spending too much for storage that they don’t use or gain additional capacity in incremental levels.

CA is unveiling the new service at the CA World conference in Las Vegas.

If you are thinking about possibly outsourcing your mainframe environment they you might want to download our Executive Guide on Mainframe Outsourcing. This will give you some insight into the risks/rewards of outsourcing.

New White Paper By Compuware Discusses Mainframe Skills Shortages

One of the biggest challenges facing CIOs with mainframe environments is that of retaining the skill set necessary to maintain legacy systems. The current mainframe workforce is comprised of baby boomers that are between the ages of 50 and 68. According to Compuware, 71% of CIOs are concerned with looming shortfall in skilled mainframe knowledge workers. However, only 41% of IT executives have any plans to address these shortages.

Compuware has put together the following list of initiatives to help organizations deal with the impending skill shortages:

  • Make sure that there is a clear understanding of what is running of the mainframe. This is done by getting a full inventory of mainframe data, applications, capacity, utilization and management tools.
  • Build a long-term skills plan. Look at key support areas of the mainframe (operations, technical support, production control, etc.) and know which of these areas could be impacted by attrition due to retirement. Develop a timeline and skill replenishment plan to address the inevitable loss of skills.
  • Keep informed on new mainframe technology. Learn about the mainframes ability to leverage new technology and efficiencies. This includes running Linux on the mainframe, the ability to run Java workloads and the mainframes ability to help with “Green IT” best practices (i.e., reduced energy and floor space consumption).
  • Maintain a practical mainframe budget. Make sure that executive leaders are providing the right budgetary support for the mainframe.
  • Be wary of short-term cost cutting. IT leaders should take a long-term view of the mainframe platform when considering alternative solutions. Mainframe application migrations can often appear to be cost effective in the short-term but could potentially cost more in the long run.

One way to deal with staffing shortages is to outsource the mainframe. When resources can’t be found or retained, it is often a good option.