Go fix it while it ain’t broken yet – modernize the mainframe

Reg Harbeck wrote an excellent article in Destination z, Overcoming IBM Z Inertia, in which encourages IBM Z (mainframe) users to take action on modernizing their mainframe.

The path of action Harbeck describes is to assign new mainframers (RePro’s) with the task to find and document what the current mainframe solutions in place are expected to do, and to work with the organisation to see what needs to retired, replaced or contained.

In other words task a new generation with the mainframe portfolio renewal, and not leave this to the old generation, who are “surviving until they retire while rocking the boat as little as possible” (hard words from Harbeck but it is time to get people in action).

In additional to the general approach Harbeck describes I think it is important to assure senior management support on a level as high as possible. Doing so you prevent that the priority of this program is too easily watered down by day-to-day priorities and you assure perceived or real “impossibilities” and roadblocks are moved out of the way resolutely. So:

  • Make modernization a senior management priority. Separate it organizationally from task from the KSOR (Keep the Show On the Road) activities, to make sure modernization priorities compete as little as possible with KSOR activities.
  • Appoint a senior management and senior technical exec with a strong Z affiliation to mentor and support and guide the young team from a organisational and strategic perspective.
  • Have a forward thinking, strong and respected senior mainframe specialist  support the team, with education and coaching (not to do it for them).

It will be an investment and, according to the “survivors” never be as efficient as before, but one very important thing it will be: fit for the future.