New IBM Initiatives Speed System z to Hybrid Cloud and IoT

Cloud computing, especially hybrid cloud computing, is going mainstream. Same is happening with the Internet of Things (IoT).  For mainframe shops unsure of how to get there IBM promises to speed the journey with the two recent initiatives.

Let’s start with hybrid clouds and the z. As IBM describes it, enterprises will continue to derive value from the existing investments in IT infrastructure while looking to the cloud to bolster business agility. The upshot: organizations increasingly are turning to hybrid clouds to obtain the best of both worlds by linking on-premises IT infrastructure to public cloud.

To that end, IBM has designed and tested various use cases around enterprise hybrid architecture involving System z and SoftLayer. These use cases focus on the relevant issues of security, application performance, and potential business cost.

One scenario introduces the cloud as an opportunity to enrich enterprise business services running on the z with external functionality delivered from the cloud.

hybrid use case

Here a retail payment system [click graphic to enlarge] is enriched with global functionality from a loyalty program that allows the consumer to accumulate points. It involves the z and its payment system, a cloud-based loyalty program, and the consumer using a mobile phone.

The hybrid cloud allows the z data center to maintain control of key applications and data in order to meet critical business service level agreements and compliance requirements while tapping the public cloud for new capabilities, business agility, or rapid innovation and shifting expenditure from CAPEX to OPEX.

Since the z serves as the data backbone for many critical applications it makes sense to connect on-premises System z infrastructure with an off-premises cloud environment. In its paper IBM suggests the hybrid architecture should be designed in a way that gives the businesses the flexibility to put their workloads and data where it makes most sense, mixing the right blend of public and private cloud services. And, of course, it also must ensure data security and performance. That’s why you want the z there.

To get started check out the uses cases IBM provides, like the one above. Already a number of organizations are trying the IBM hybrid cloud: Macy’s, Whirlpool, Daimler, and Sicoss Group. Overall, nearly half of IBM’s top 100 strategic outsourcing clients already implementing cloud solutions with IBM as they transition to a hybrid cloud model.

And if hybrid cloud isn’t enough to keep you busy, it also is time to start thinking about the IoT. To make it easier last month the company announced the IBM Internet of Things Foundation, an extension of Bluemix. Like Bluemix, this is a cloud service that, as IBM describes it, makes it possible for a developer to quickly extend an Internet-connected device such as a sensor or controller into the cloud, build an application alongside the device to collect the data, and send real-time insights back to the developer’s business. That data can be analyzed on the z too, using Hadoop on zLinux, which you read about here a few weeks ago.

IoT should be nothing new to System z shops. DancingDinosaur discussed it this past summer here. Basically it’s the POS or ATM network on steroids with orders on magnitude more complexity. IDC estimates that by 2020 there will be as many as 28 billion autonomous IoT devices installed. Today it estimates there are nine billion.

Between the cloud, hybrid clouds, and IoT, z data centers will have a lot to keep them busy. But with IBM’s new initiatives in both areas you can get simple, highly secure and powerful application access to the cloud, IoT devices, and data. With the IoT Foundation you can rapidly compose applications, visualization dashboards and mobile apps that can generate valuable insights when linked with back office enterprise applications like those on the z.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT writer/analyst. You can follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. Also check out my other IT writing at Technologywriter.com and here.

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