Create your future by building on your past

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I have had time to reflect on the many conversations I had last month at IBM InterConnect. Some of the more interesting and impactful conversations had to do with the topic of modernization. I thought I’d share my thoughts on modernization with you this month in the form of a Q&A.

Do I have to re-invent my organization as a start-up venture?

Rocket Guitars AmpEveryone wants some of that “cool factor” that is associated with start-ups. But once you get past the free sodas and the foosball tables, most new ventures struggle to find their feet. In contrast, many established companies have incumbent values, culture, technology, and systems that start-ups could only dream about. So instead of thinking about how to start over, you should build on the strengths and core capabilities that you already have. Think about all of the millions of lines of code that run your business. Think about all of the terabytes and petabytes of data that power your business. Think about all of the infrastructure you have in place. Those are investments and assets that are just begging to be leveraged. Why would you ever want to start from scratch? (By the way, Rocket is a 26-year old company and if you visit our offices around the globe you’ll find that we have free sodas, ping pong tables, pool tables, and some very cool guitars and amps!)

What new technologies should I be looking at?

As someone who has worked in this industry for over 30 years, I can tell you that the innovation cycle has never been faster than it is right now. That’s great news, but it can be a little bit intimidating for IT organizations and leadership teams that just mastered or implemented the most recent “big thing.” Here are some of my favorite new technologies that are shaping our world:

  • For app dev, look at Node.js. This is radically changing how companies create apps and tools, but it’s surprisingly easy to learn and use. It’s no wonder that top global companies like IBM, PayPal, and Microsoft have embraced this environment.
  • One of our big areas of focus is helping companies move their analytics closer to their data. That’s where Apache Spark is playing a pivotal role (and giving Hadoop a run for its money…) Rocket is helping extend the reach of Spark to all kinds of data sources and exploring both scale-up and scale-out deployment scenarios. See us at Strata+Hadoop World in San Jose at the end of this month to learn more.
  • IBM LinuxONE is getting people’s attention because it is the first z Systems server that is purpose-fit for Linux. Yes, you can run Ubuntu on LinuxONE. Yes, you can run KVM on LinuxONE. Think about that for a second: one of the world’s most modern operating systems and hypervisors is running on one the world’s most industrial-strength hardware. It’s a great mash-up that is driving some amazing results.
  • Data Virtualization (DV) is rapidly becoming a high-performance and cost-effective way for organizations to leverage data where it resides. It’s opening up a lot of new doors for companies to extract the most value from their information, and it’s why we’re proud to announce that every new IBM mainframe comes with a copy of our Rocket Data Virtualization product.
  • Collaborative business intelligence (BI) is a relatively new term. Think of it as the union of traditional BI with social and other Web 2.0 technologies to facilitate advanced analytics. If you haven’t heard it yet, by the end of 2016 it will definitely part of the conversation.

Can my team embrace continuous delivery and become more agile?

Continuous delivery is all about surprising and delighting customers. So their ability (and desire) to embrace continuous delivery has nothing to do with age and tenure and everything to do with commitment to customer satisfaction. I’ve seen 20-year veterans embrace everything that continuous delivery represents. So the answer is, “yes they can!” It all comes down to fundamentally reassessing what a release is. Instead of rolling out a large feature set en masse every 12 months, tech companies need to adapt to a world where change is constant and unrelenting. Instead of waiting for everything to be ready before dazzling the world with a major release, make new features (and services!) available as soon as they are tested and ready for consumption.

What about this new API economy?

I don’t love buzzwords and catchphrases, but I will use this one because the API economy (application programming interface economy) is at the intersection of technology and business. It’s basically a way to describe how APIs can have a positive bottom-line effect for companies that successfully create and deploy them. IBM describes APIs as the “digital glue that links services, applications, and systems” so that businesses can create new sources of revenue. It is already paying off for big tech brand names like Facebook, Salesforce, Google, and Amazon. But I promise you that you have the raw material to build and deploy APIs that will generate revenue for your company. Rocket can help you extract value from your core applications and data and create (and manage and deploy) APIs, micro-flows, services, and more.

I get a lot of questions about a lot of things, but in many ways modernization is at the heart and soul of what so many companies worry about and want to manage. At InterConnect I heard Claus Torp Jensen (Chief Architect at Aetna) speak about how established IT organizations and business can begin to modernize by creating a “system of systems.” That concept really resonated with me and I believe is an elegant and simple way to cut through the complexity. You (yes you!) can modernize your business by building on the strength of your applications and business logic, your massive amounts of operational data, your industrial strength infrastructure and create those “system of systems” connections that will be valuable to your customers.

If you have questions or are looking for help, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I am happy to share more of my thoughts, use cases, and success stories on these topics.

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Andy Youniss co-founded Rocket Software in 1990 and continues to be the company's main driving force. Andy successfully established and actively manages Rocket's largest OEM partnerships and is guiding the company's growth through technology investments, acquisitions, new product lines, and strategic partnerships. Prior to founding Rocket Software, Andy was the development manager for DB View Inc., a software company specializing in DB2 database tools. Previously, he was a programmer/analyst at American Management Systems, and was also a project development consultant. Andy holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

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