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CloudFrame 2023 Predictions: Three Predictions That Will Indicate the Era of Hybrid Modernization Has Arrived


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

Three Predictions That Will Indicate the Era of Hybrid Modernization Has Arrived

By Venkat Pillay, Founder and CEO, CloudFrame

As organizations continue to modernize their IT infrastructure, most are looking to the cloud to scale capacity and efficiency. The traditional way of scaling mainframe capacity was to add processing power to the level of your highest usage. This was an expensive and potentially wasteful practice. The highest capacity may represent a short processing period (a spike), often associated with intense data calculations, updates, or simply housekeeping workload.  Examples of applications that might cause a spike in capacity would be trading confirmation and posting, credit card activity posting, or account balancing and provisioning. 

The emphasis on scaling will hasten change in mainframe infrastructure and modernization efforts.  Here are three predictions of how this may impact organizations.

Prediction 1: In 2023, we'll see a reduction in mainframe workloads.

Organizations wishing to scale their mainframe will continue to move some or all of their workloads to the cloud and cloud-based Kubernetes containers. Kubernetes is an open-source container orchestration platform that allows users to deploy and manage containerized applications in a cloud environment. By moving workloads to Kubernetes containers, organizations can take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the cloud while still leveraging their existing mainframe systems. 

This horizontal scaling of mainframe workloads to the cloud and containers will result in mainframe workload reductions.

Prediction 2: Horizontal scaling of mainframe workloads to hybrid cloud environments will be added to modernization portfolios.

Organizations with mission-critical and proprietary application logic (calculations, procedures, dynamic processes) are risk-averse.  Disruption and errors with outcomes and service level agreements are unacceptable. Applications that run these businesses may be decades old, but they deliver consistent and predictable results. Organizations depend on these applications.

These organizations also accept that change must occur to reduce cost and risk and ensure these applications can continue to deliver into the future. Organizations are looking for low-risk changes that have positive impacts and that may involve near-term mainframe changes.

They appreciate that mainframes excel in their management of the GPP workload by allocating resources, prioritizing tasks, and scheduling jobs. Moving compute to the cloud leverages this strength. Kubernetes containers would be another resource within the mainframe's resource portfolio.  

Here's how horizontal scaling might work:

  • The mainframe receives a request to run a mainframe application.
  • The mainframe determines that the application should be run in the cloud, using organization-supplied SLA (priority, importance, etc.),
  • Augmenting the role of the mainframe systems that facilitate resources and scaling, software like CloudFrame will shift applications and their workloads from the mainframe GPP to Kubernetes containers allowing the Kubernetes and the cloud to allocate, use, and release necessary resources leveraging Container As a Service,
  • The container executes the application,
  • The mainframe monitors the application's progress and delegates necessary policy changes to the Kubernetes engine for any adjustments to the container's resources or priority to ensure that the application runs smoothly.
  • Once the application has completed its tasks, the mainframe shuts down the container and releases the resources back to the cloud environment.

Using Kubernetes in this way will allow mainframe workload managers to take advantage of the cloud's scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness while still managing mainframe applications consistently and reliably.

There are several benefits to using Kubernetes containers for mainframe workloads. First, containers allow for easier and more efficient resource allocation. Because containers can be easily spun up or down as needed, organizations can allocate resources more efficiently and reduce waste.

Second, Kubernetes containers offer improved security and compliance. Containers are isolated from one another and can be easily configured to meet specific security and compliance requirements. This can be especially useful for organizations with strict compliance requirements, such as those in the financial or healthcare sectors.

Finally, moving mainframe workloads to Kubernetes containers can also help organizations reduce costs. By leveraging the pay-as-you-go model of the cloud, organizations can save on hardware, maintenance, and other costs associated with running mainframe systems.

Prediction 3: In 2023, we will see an acceleration of legacy application modernization projects involving cloud resources.

In 2023, interest will shift to a broader vision of modernization, and they will begin long-overdue modernization projects. Currently, many companies concentrate on data-centric moves away from the mainframe. This causes various data quality degradation issues due to duplication of data and loss of a clean golden source. It also increases tech debt and complicates future modernization. A move away from this data-centric thinking will create three categories of modernization seekers and growth in modernization projects.

The first category of organizations will initiate lift-and-shift projects that move systems (applications and data) to other platforms to remove the systems from the mainframe and leverage distributed or cloud deployments.

Another category of organizations, with the assistance of cloud providers, will concentrate on moving compute off the mainframe (see Prediction #2). Cloud providers will invest in mainframe workload migration tools and incent clients to move into this area of modernization.

The third category of organizations will acknowledge the business value of their application logic (the intellectual property (IP) of the business), and their modernization efforts will focus on cloud deployment of these applications. They want to move their applications from COBOL into Java or other forward-leaning platforms. They believe the application logic (the IP) will remain a cornerstone of their IT strategic advantage.   

This third category will initiate application modernization projects faster, utilizing automated transformation tools like CloudFrame Renovate that allow them to transform successfully.  They value these tools for their ability to transform monolithic mainframe COBOL applications into microservices-oriented cloud-deployed Java, recognize and transform coding patterns and redundancies, reduce time to value (new applications), and reduce the risk of lengthy big-bang, rewrite everything & big-failure projects. 

Additionally, they prioritize the ability to validate the "quality" of the transformed code. Quality is a subject term but can be loosely described to include maintainability (removal of monolithic structures, readable, standards-based) and accuracy (precision, equivalent results).  

There you have it: three predictions that, if true, will indicate that hybrid modernization has arrived. Strategic thinking organizations will leverage cloud environments to address cost, risk, and digital transformation concerns.  




Venkat Pillay is the CEO and founder of CloudFrame, an application modernization software company that provides solutions that address the challenges of transforming mainframe COBOL applications into maintainable Java.

Published Friday, January 06, 2023 10:00 AM by David Marshall
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