2016 seems to have had some sort of buzz to it as people are starting to do business again. The blogosphere has been full of stories about DevOps and Agile computing. On the down side, there have been lots of news reports of companies (mainly Windows users) who have suffered from ransomware attacks or who have moved quickly enough to prevent such an attack. In a more positive vein, there seem to have been more people under 30 attending mainframe conferences. It seems that these relative youngsters are beginning to exploit the opportunities becoming available in the mainframe world.
A New System
In February, IBM announced its follow-up to the IBM z13—the z13s
. This new machine offers encryption at twice the speed of previous mid-range systems, without compromising performance. The z13s is targeted at mid-size organizations and described as the new entry point for the company’s z Systems. It comes with updated cryptographic and tamper-resistant hardware-accelerated cryptographic coprocessor cards with faster processors and more memory, allowing clients to process twice as many high-volume, cryptographically-protected transactions as before. The z13s comes in two models—the N10 and N20. The N10 can be configured with up to 10 configurable cores and up to 1TB of memory, while the N20 can have up to 20 configurable cores and up to 4 TB of memory.
In line with the general upbeat feeling in the industry, IBM reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that beat analysts’ expectations in October. IBM reported adjusted earnings of $3.29 per share on revenue of $19.23 billion. Analysts expected the company to post earnings of $3.23 per share on about $19 billion in revenue. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said IBM’s quarterly performance was helped, in particular, by growth in the company’s “strategic imperatives” which include businesses like cloud, analytics, mobility and security.
Technology services and cloud platforms, which includes infrastructure services, technical support services and integration software, saw revenues of $8.7 billion, up 2.4 percent. A strong hybrid cloud services performance drove growth of 45 percent in strategic imperatives revenue within the segment. However, Systems, which includes systems hardware and OS software (including mainframes) saw revenues of $1.6 billion, down 21.0 percent. The revenue reflects z Systems product cycle dynamics.
IBM joined the Surface Enterprise Initiative
and is selling Microsoft’s MS Surface devices, joining Dell and HP and consultancy and contracting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. You may remember that about two years ago IBM and Apple came to an agreement to work together. According to Microsoft’s marketing general manager, Brian Hall
: “Our largest global customers told us they wanted Surface, but needed the enterprise class services and support to let them easily purchase and deploy to their employees all over the world. IBM will draw on its analytics and enterprise applications expertise to create new industry-specific solutions for financial services and consumer packaged goods/retail companies that take advantage of the unique capabilities of Surface devices.”
IBM is already a big player in terms of analytics, and Microsoft is keen to get a part of that marketplace. Hall says: “IBM will develop an application for CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) and retail companies that puts Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) on Surface to bring decision makers closer to the data and analytics they need to optimize utilization of employee time.”
Most organizations have some Macs mixed in with the PCs, plus there are any number of Android and Apple tablets and Surface Pros being used as small footprint PCs. There are still lots of people using iPhones, although worldwide, more people use Android devices. What I’m suggesting is that there are lots of people using whatever tech suits them. And they are likely to continue to want to use the same devices in future, so there will still be a demand for iOS devices to connect to mainframe apps.
And what’s in it for IBM? Well they now have a way for mainframe users to access analytics data from a popular device. That means more people will be using the interface they like to get the results they want, and they won’t worry what’s going on at the back-end. And for Microsoft? Well they get another sales channel and they get access to superior analytics, which their customers want.
Companies Join IBM
IBM has, as usual, been acquisitive during 2016. In January it acquired Iris Analytics for its real-time transaction fraud detection business. It also acquired Ustream for its streaming video business; and Resource/Ammirati, a digital marketing and creative agency.
In February it acquired Aperto AG and exc.io AG, who are both digital marketing and creative agencies. Also in February it acquired Truven Health Analytics, a provider of cloud-based healthcare data, analytics and insights; and Resilient Systems for their cyber security, incident response platform.
In March it acquired Optevia, who are specialist providers of Microsoft Dynamics CRM-based solutions and associated services to the public sector. And it bought Blue Wolf Group LLC, for its salesforce systems integrator and dashboard virtualization business.
In June it acquired EZSource for its application discovery and dashboard visualization business.
September saw the acquisition of Promontory Financial Group for its risk management and regulatory compliance business.
Then in October IBM acquired Sanovi Technologies for its hybrid cloud business.
Other mainframe vendors were also acquiring companies. Among them, Compuware took over Standardware’s software—specifically its COPE IMS virtualization technology. And Compuware also acquired MVS Solutions. Syncsort acquired Cogito, a maker of specialized software that can access mainframe data, improve the performance of DB2 and CA IDMS, and lower mainframe costs. Micro Focus acquired Serena Software. And Micro Focus is merging with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Software Business Segment in an $8.8 billion deal.
It looks like the mainframe industry is getting that spring back in its step. And with that in mind, I can confidently predict that 2017 will be an interesting year, and that the mainframe will continue to offer outstanding performance and reliability, and be at the heart of the world’s business-critical applications.
Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd, an IT consultancy. A popular speaker and blogger, he currently chairs the Virtual IMS and Virtual CICS user groups. He’s editorial director for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, and has been an IBM Champion every year since 2009.