2018 seems to have continued the trend of 2017, with plenty going on in the mainframe world and mainframe sites willing to, at least, sandbox some more recent trends in mainframe computing rather than just leaving them on the slides of the latest presentation that they’ve sat through. It’s as if mainframers are getting back their old confidence and wanting to push the envelope of what can be done by their favorite computing platform.
Security is still an important issue, and many companies that got their fingers burned last year with Wannacry and other cyberattacks are well on their way to introducing multifactor authentication for their computers—or is it that the press haven’t been told about 2018 attacks? In addition, everyone had to get their heads around the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that affects anyone who stores information about EU citizens. Customers have to give informed consent for their data to be stored and used, they have the right to access the data and they have the right to be forgotten. All this comes with hefty fines for companies found to be in breach.
In April, IBM announced the IBM z14 Model ZR1 and IBM LinuxONE Rockhopper II. The new systems have a 19-inch industry standard, single-frame design allowing for easy placement into cloud data centers and for private cloud environments. They came with robust security including pervasive encryption, cloud capabilities and powerful analytics with machine learning.
The models are designed to bring industry-leading security for Linux environments with the broad use of IBM Secure Service Container technology. Steps can now be taken to protect data against internal threats at the system level from users with elevated credentials or hackers who obtain a user’s credentials, as well as external threats, with no application changes.
Applications can be put into a Docker container to be ready for Secure Service Container deployment, and the application can be managed using Docker and Kubernetes tools. The new design comes with significant increases in capacity, performance, memory and cache across nearly all aspects of the system in 40 percent less space and is standardized to be deployed in any data centre.
As a quick catch up, pervasive encryption refers to the ability to encrypt everything everywhere without interfering with the user experience (e.g. the real-time encryption of all mobile transactions). The z14 models can pervasively encrypt data associated with any application, cloud service, or database at any time.
As well as pervasive encryption, other words or acronyms people in 2018 were starting to use in connection with mainframes include: DevSecOps, Digital reinvention, Nabla container, Solution Consumption License Charges, z/OSMF, and Zowe.
IBM has also continued its love of DevOps and is creating major releases of products like CICS and IMS every three months. We’re currently at CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V5.5.
However, IBM’s third quarter figures were a bit disappointing. Its revenue dropped by 2.1 percent to $18.75 billion, below the anticipated $19.1 billion. However, it reported adjusted earnings of $3.42 billion, which was better than estimates of $3.39 billion. Nevertheless, its stock tumbled almost 8.1 percent to $133.43, bringing losses so far this year to 12 percent.
Cloud revenue grew by 10 percent in the period to $4.5 billion. The figure had seen 20 percent expansion in the second quarter. IBM Systems business had $1.7 billion in revenue, up one percent, but below the $1.79 billion estimate.
IBM Systems had reported robust growth in the first half of the year with strong demand for all three offerings, including IBM Z, Power and Storage. Although revenue growth slowed down in the third quarter, IBM Z revenues continued to impress, but software revenues were down.
Technology Services and Cloud Platforms hit $8.3 billion (it was expected to be $8.43 billion) in revenue, which was down two percent year on year. The Cognitive Solutions business segment produced $4.1 billion (it was expected to be $4.3 billion) in revenue, down six percent. And Global Business Services delivered revenue of $4.1 billion (expected to be $4.06 billion), up one percent.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In 2018 IBM acquired only three companies. In May, it acquired Armanta for its aggregation and analytics software for financial services firms. In June, it was the turn of Oniqua Holdings Pty Ltd for its intelligent maintenance repair and operations (MRO) solutions. And thirdly, it was the much-publicized Red Hat, a provider of open-source software and solutions. The deal cost IBM $34 billion and is thought to be the biggest software merger ever. Most people assume that IBM is hoping to leverage Red Hat’s experience in the cloud computing market to bolster its own efforts. Or, it could be Red Hat’s expertise with OpenShift and Kubernetes, as well as Linux (which makes up about three quarters of its revenue).
And speaking of mergers and acquisitions, I guess the biggest surprise in 2018 was Broadcom’s acquisition of CA Technologies in July. Broadcom, best known for its chip business, paid $18.9 billion. When the deal was announced, Broadcom said the acquisition was part of its strategy to buy “established mission-critical technology businesses.” Of course, for years, CA Technologies was known for acquiring other companies.
2019 Technology Trends
It’s interesting to see what Gartner highlights as the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019. They are:
• Autonomous things, such as robots, drones and autonomous vehicles, which use automated intelligence (AI) to automate functions previously performed by humans.
• Augmented analytics, which focus on a specific area of augmented intelligence using machine learning to transform how analytics content is developed, consumed and shared.
• AI-driven development so that, by 2022, at least 40 percent of new application development projects will have AI co-developers on their team.
• Digital twins (i.e. there will be a digital representation of a real-world entity or system)
• Empowered edge, or edge computing, which is usually associated with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and will grow using specialized AI chips and greater processing power.
• Immersive experience, which will extend the way people interact with the digital world. virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality will change the way people perceive the digital world.
• Blockchain, a type of distributed ledger, which promises to reshape industries by enabling trust, providing transparency and reducing friction across business ecosystems—potentially lowering costs, reducing transaction settlement times and improving cash flow.
• Smart spaces, or physical or digital environments in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact in increasingly open, connected, coordinated and intelligent ecosystems.
• Digital ethics and privacy, both of which are growing concerns for individuals, organizations and governments. People are increasingly concerned about how their personal information is being used by organizations in both the public and private sector, and the backlash will only increase for organizations that are not proactively addressing these concerns.
• Quantum computing, which is a type of computing that operates on the quantum state of subatomic particles that represent information as elements denoted as quantum bits (qubits). The parallel execution and exponential scalability of quantum computers means they excel with problems too complex for a traditional approach or where traditional algorithms would take too long to find a solution. IBM has just announced the Q System One, which it claims is the world’s first integrated universal quantum computing system for commercial applications.
It’s interesting to see how many of those trends will use a mainframe in order to work effectively.
So it looks like the mainframe industry is an exciting place to work. And with that in mind, I can confidently predict that 2019 will be an interesting year, and that the mainframe will continue to offer outstanding performance and reliability, remaining at the heart of the world’s business-critical applications.