Sunday, May 09, 2021

Thinking About the Mainframe, the Cloud, and IBM Think 2021

A Bit about Think

I am looking forward to attending the IBM Think 2021 conference, IBM's annual flagship technology event. I have attended several in-person Think events, as well as last year’s virtual conference, and I always come away with new knowledge and additional insight into technology and IBM’s vast portfolio of hardware, software, and solutions. The Think conference is always one of the tech highlights of the year for me!

This year’s event, IBM Think 2021, is again being held as a virtual conference, May 11 and 12, 2021. And it is free of charge, which means that you can experience all the great education, presentations, and networking opportunities without having to leave your desk.

My favorite aspect of the Think conference is the breadth and scope of pertinent technical content that it covers. Whether you are a developer, a DBA, a data scientist, a manager, an executive, or any flavor of IT or business specialist, there will be a wealth of useful information presented to educate you and make you “think.”  Be sure to register here.

My Think 2021 Agenda

There are multiple sessions to be delivered at this year’s IBM Think conference that intrigue me because they focus on areas where I specialize.  For example, Dr. Dario Gil, SVP and Director of IBM Research will be delivering a keynote session on IT infrastructure which is sure to be educational. This session, 2081, offers a deep dive into the IBM innovations powering the next generation of hardware, including IBM Z.

Another session I am looking forward to is session 2303 focusing on security “everywhere.” It features IBM luminaries like Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems, and Mary O’Brien, General Manager IBM Security. And Forrester Research Director, Lauren Nelson, will also be lending her industry expertise to the session.

But I think the Think 2021 session I am most looking forward to is The IBM Z roadmap for hybrid cloud and AI (session 1605) featuring Ross Mauri General Manager for IBM Z. Mauri promises to offer a timely discussion on the business value of integrating the IBM Z platform as a full participant into your hybrid cloud. And he’ll speak with Russell Plew, Technology Senior Manager at M&T Bank who will discuss their real-life experiences in doing so!

Why is this session so interesting to me? Well, I’ve worked with the mainframe my entire career, and as anybody who works on the mainframe knows, the IBM Z platform is used to drive mission-critical workloads across all major industry sectors, worldwide. If your organization needs to perform large-scale transaction processing (thousands of transactions per second), support thousands of users and programs concurrently, manage terabytes of information, and handle large-bandwidth communication, chances are you rely on the mainframe to do that because the platform excels at all of those things.

If you’ve ever deposited a check into your bank account, booked a flight on an airline, or used a credit card to purchase something, it is probable that a mainframe was involved in completing that activity!

Ever since Stewart Alsop of InfoWorld predicted the last mainframe would be unplugged on March 15, 1996 there has been a lingering perception that the mainframe would go away at some point. But here we are, 25 years later, and the mainframe is still going strong! At last year’s IBM Think conference IBM presented the following statistics on the mainframe’s ubiquity and power:

      70% of the Fortune 500 use mainframes and 72% of customer-facing applications are dependent on the mainframe for some or all data processing.

      Mainframes are designed to be able to process a trillion web transactions a day with the capability to process 1.1 million transactions per second.

      95% of transactions in the banking, insurance, airline and retail industries are handled by mainframes.

Indeed, the mainframe continues to offer a strong, unparalleled platform for performance, security, and reliability. Of course, the mainframe has changed and grown over its 50+ year lifespan. Today’s IBM z15 is light-years beyond the original IBM System/360 introduced in 1964. Some of the great newer capabilities of the IBM Z include encryptions everywhere with pervasive encryption and Data Privacy Passports, rack-mountable mainframes, Instant Recovery, and cloud-native development. I’m looking forward to hear how IBM’s customers have taken advantage of these, and other capabilities, to integrate the IBM Z into their hybrid cloud architecture.

It only makes sense that businesses relying on the mainframe will continue to do so, even as they embrace cloud computing. This is what the “hybrid” in the term hybrid cloud implies, an IT infrastructure that uses a mix of on-premises and private / public cloud from multiple providers. And this approach makes the most sense because everything can’t shift to the cloud immediately (perhaps ever) because most existing applications were not built with an understanding of the public cloud and it would take a lot of investment to re-engineer them to properly take advantage of a public cloud architecture. And even if you wanted to move everything, cloud service providers (CSPs) can’t build out their infrastructure fast enough to support all the existing data center capacity “out there” to immediately support everything.

So, it will be exciting to watch the IBM continue to innovate on the IBM Z platform as enterprise customers work to integrate Z as a vital component of their hybrid cloud infrastructure. With the large investment enterprises have in their working mainframe applications, large data sets and databases containing crucial data, and high-volume processing requirements they will continue to rely on the mainframe well into the future… and that makes it important to understand how IBM is enabling the IBM Z to participate in your hybrid cloud architecture.

So, join me at Think 2021 for session 1605 to learn how to use your investments in IBM Z and build and modernize applications into container-based workloads using a common DevOps experience. And stick around for other sessions to gain insights on harnessing the full value of IBM hardware, software and services in your organization as you continue to support, manage, and transform traditional business and IT operations.