Fit for Business

Some people say that IBM Z is “fit for purpose” but I believe a better description is that it’s fit for business purpose. The purpose of Z is business—because it’s reliable, efficient, and secure. This is an important distinction to make because at one time, IT professionals made the decisions regarding infrastructure, but now, those decisions have far-reaching impact across organizations, and business leaders need to be involved. It’s crucial for decision-makers to understand their options, so they can reach logical business decisions and create an IT infrastructure that’s built to last.

Digital Transformation Considerations

For example, if you’re tasked with deciding whether it’s time to undertake a digital transformation, you need to think through the process carefully to be certain you’re not making changes just for the sake of change. The one, big, overriding consideration must be how to realize the most benefit for the business as a whole.

“Modernization, of course, implies fit for evolution and change—once modernized, you will be making further changes to accommodate new business,” writes David Norfolk in Bloor’s Market Review paper titled “The Future of Business…using Enterprise Server 3.0 Services.” With the idea of past, present, and future in mind, these key factors should inform any digital transformation decision:

  • Data security
  • Protection from threats like ransomware
  • Efficiency
  • Ability to garner insights from data
  • SLA support
  • IT infrastructure ROI
  • Overall cost
  • Impact on customers
  • Impact on employees and the company culture

Your IT infrastructure is a big investment and approaching it from a business perspective offers long-term benefits. Evaluating whether your infrastructure should be changed and in what way without preconceived ideas or bias for or against a particular technology is important if you’re going to find the correct answers. If you begin with a preconceived idea that your current infrastructure is outdated and needs to be updated, you’re beginning with your mind already made up. By pushing that bias aside, and truly looking at what’s best for your business, you’ll be able to make clearer decisions about what—if anything—needs to be transformed.

IBM Z Longevity from a Business Standpoint

Unfortunately, sometimes business leaders come to the conclusion that their current infrastructure is outdated and needs to be changed. For them, the fact that the mainframe has been around for 50 years means it’s old technology and therefore it must need to be updated! Yet, IBM Z offers numerous, modern business benefits, including—but certainly not limited to:

  • Security: to protect your greatest asset (your data)
  • Resiliency: If something does happen, downtime is minimized
  • Processing efficiency: huge volumes of transactions, at great speed, in a small footprint

The longevity of the mainframe speaks to its strengths in the world of business. Something is inherently right about the match between business and the IBM Z platform. The key to finding the most appropriate infrastructure for your organization is in first understanding your business needs and then how the business benefits of IBM Z such as reduced cost, long term scalability, risk aversion, security and flexibility can meet those needs.

Use Caution When Jumping on Technology Trends

How many times have you seen new technology come and go? The latest, greatest, new shiny thing may seem like a miracle, but following trends is no way to build a business-ready infrastructure. When you consider your IT architecture from an unbiased standpoint, you insulate yourself from being swayed by marketing tactics and bring more credibility to your final decisions.

Thinking through your business needs from a broader perspective can lead to surprising insights and discoveries. It’s important to consider all of your options, rather than changing your infrastructure based on the latest temporary technology trends.

Asking the Difficult Questions

First and foremost, you need to consider how the entire journey of changing your IT infrastructure will improve your business. If it doesn’t make things better for your business, customers, or employees, maybe it’s not worth doing. That being said, while you may not need to swap out hardware or software, you will likely need to modernize the way you do things to take advantage of new technologies and gain a competitive edge. And doing that modernization in place is often the most cost effective, least disruptive path to your goal.

Regardless of the way you go about changing your IT, keep in mind you’re also changing the culture of your business and people often resist change, both actively and passively. How will you prepare your organization for big IT changes? A Gartner paper titled “Predicts 2022: Driving Toward Digital Infrastructure Platforms” states, “A primary reason that IT operating model transformations take many years is the amount of workforce development and organizational change that must occur across the enterprise.” Along with the possibility of push-back from within your organization, you’re also taking on risk in a digital transformation because any change involves some level of risk. Consider whether the cost and time required to change outweighs the benefits. In many instances, modernizing an existing structure is a better choice.

“Transformation success is not just about embracing change once, but about internalizing it sustainably and consistently,” according to Gartner. Digital transformation is not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and it becomes your new way of doing business into the future. 

In future blog posts, I’ll explore in more depth the ways in which IBM Z is fit for business purpose, how it fits into a hybrid cloud strategy, how to address and overturn biases surrounding IBM Z, and more. In the meantime, you can learn more on the recently unveiled IBM Z and Cloud Modernization Center page.

Originally published on the IBM Z and Linux Community Blog.

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