• September 25, 2018

New England zEnterprise Customer Council Highlights Mobile, Cloud, and Innovation

The NEzCC fall 2014 meeting was held on November 12th at the Publick House in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. True to its legacy as a historic inn, the Publick House was a welcoming setting that provided a scenic backdrop of autumn in New England. But the true value of these customer council meetings is in hearing what’s on the minds of IBM System z users. The interaction between System z users, IBM, and IBM business partners is vital to keeping System z and its applications pertinent for the future.

The key takeaway of this forum was that System z applications must be enabled for cloud computing, and accessible by mobile devices, in order to remain relevant. Traditional access through terminal emulation and laptops will result in a limited lifespan for these applications and tools. This is certainly not new information; System z and related applications have been evolving toward this goal for years, and IBM and its business partners, such as Rocket Software, have been enthusiastically moving in this direction, too.

Today, it is much easier to develop or migrate z-based applications for cloud and mobile access than it was even five years ago. What has really made it possible to more easily and quickly deploy z-based services is what IBM refers to as “z Services API Management.” APIs are the building blocks for apps, and IBM has coined the term “API Economy” to illustrate the impact that APIs have on the development of apps for cloud and mobile. The premise of this thinking is that many of the core business functions reside in z-based services, such as CICS, IMS, WAS, and TPF. Many large banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions rely on these services as the foundation of their core businesses. Leveraging APIs that are consumable (visible and easy to incorporate) is the best way to leverage these core services for mobile, cloud, or third-party applications.

Image courtesy of IBM
Image courtesy of IBM

An example of mobilizing an app was demonstrated by a major insurance company, which happened to be the winner of the “Mainframe Mobile App Throwdown – Enterprise 2014.” This company needed 24×7 visibility to its CICS environments in order to proactively monitor for issues before they became problems. The initial goal was to create a management dashboard that could show the status of critical applications at any time. Of course, 24×7 access would be a bit of a challenge if users were limited to using laptops. So, this company created an app that would allow access from iPhones. This meant that support staff could conveniently monitor the environment and significantly improve overall reliability, availability, and serviceability of CICS processing.

Innovation was the underlying theme that tied all of the ideas together at the customer council meeting. Innovation is what drives the environment where System z-based services can be leveraged for mobile, cloud, and third-party applications. To emphasize the importance of innovation, IBM brought in speaker Madge Meyer, author of the book, The Innovator’s Path. Ms. Meyer delivered a very inspiring presentation highlighting the disciplines of innovation. She delivered the message that anyone can adhere to these disciplines in order to make innovative thinking part of business as usual. Meyer’s research is derived from numerous interviews with a wide range of business leaders, yet her message to the meeting attendees was that innovation is not limited to leaders. Everyone can incorporate innovative thinking into their roles, which will help to generate overall success.

Fall NEzCC key points:

From end users: There‘s a compelling need for major business applications to access System z-based services from anywhere and on mobile devices.

From IBM to customers and business partners: Leverage the existing assets and products that you have created over the years through API Management.

  • Make APIs consumable for internal and external developers by taking advantage of IBM development resources such as Bluemix, which IBM describes as a powerful application development tool that is changing the way people develop applications. Bluemix is a PaaS that helps developers create solutions much more easily and deploy solutions much more rapidly than they were able to in the past.

How is Rocket responding to these insights?

It is apparent that users are eager to have the ability to monitor System z performance via their mobile apps. Rocket currently offers this capability with its Mainstar/MXI offering.

  • Rocket is leveraging IBM Bluemix for its Rocket.Build 2014 software development initiative.

Although it was not directly stated at the meeting, an inference could be made that applications and products that do not move to the new API economy will become obsolete and will be replaced over time.

More information and slide presentations from the conference can be found at the NEzCC web page.

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