Survey Finds Widespread Adoption of DevOps in Mainframe Sites

A survey of IT leaders by the market research firm Global Surveyz found a full 100% of respondents are modernizing their mainframe applications, but the reasons behind and approaches to achieving that goal vary widely.

The research was conducted on behalf of Model9, a provider of tools for migrating mainframe data, and polled 100 companies that have more than 1,500 employees or more and use mainframes. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) are embracing DevOps best practices to manage mainframe infrastructure, with 61% modernizing their mainframe applications. Just under half (46%) also noted they were outsourcing the management of those operations.

However, the survey also found that unlocking the business value of stored data and accelerating innovation are among the top 2022 targets for 42% and 36% of respondents, respectively. Data protection (89%), cybersecurity and resilience (76%) and cost optimization (52%) are the top priorities.

Tamar Milstein, chief marketing officer for Model9, said that the continued focus on block-and-tackle mainframe management issues suggests there may be a disconnect between IT teams managing these platforms and senior business executives that are looking to drive digital business transformation initiatives.

Nevertheless, a full 91% of respondents said the mainframe still holds the most critical applications for their business, with 62% reporting more than half of their core business applications on these platforms. The use of cloud computing platforms alongside mainframes is also widespread. A total of 61% have a hybrid multi-cloud computing environment already in place. Only slightly over one-third (35%) are using a single cloud to augment their mainframe. Nearly half (48%) are replicating data to the cloud. However, just over half (51%) are storing more than 50% of their data off the cloud.

Model9 is making a case for modernizing these environments by making it easier for mainframe applications to access data stored on less expensive platforms to house data. That approach provides all the benefits of the cloud without having to incur the risks and costs of attempting to migrate an entire mainframe application to the cloud, said Milstein.

Regardless of the approach organizations take toward application modernization, the survey made it apparent just how widespread the adoption of DevOps best practices in mainframe environments is. Many of those organizations are using DevOps practices to add application programming interfaces (APIs) to legacy mainframe applications to make the data residing in those applications more accessible. That approach reduces the technical debt that organizations might otherwise incur as they build and deploy applications on other platforms that might provide similar capabilities to an existing mainframe application.

While there are plenty of organizations that have migrated away from mainframes, there remains a large base of IT teams still running applications on these platforms. Achieving the same level of transaction processing capabilities enabled by a mainframe in a cloud computing environment is not yet feasible. There are, of course, organizations that decided they would no longer like to operate a data center at all, but there’s still a substantial number of organizations that will continue to operate mainframes well into the rest of this century.

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