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BPM on the Mainframe Bridges the Business-IT Divide


Editor’s note: This is the first article in a two-part series on business process management on the System z platform.

While IBM System z brings with it benefits like transactional strength, high performance and scalability, the complexity of the processes and applications within it can bring to the surface some problems and challenges. These include having to deal with inefficient working environments that span systems, which can adversely affect reuse potential and scalability. Incomplete or inaccurate data flow between systems affects decision making with difficulty in scaling up from project to program. Finally, inflexible systems inhibit responsiveness, making it difficult to use existing business logic for new services.

These are symptoms of complex process environments that are all addressed by business process management (BPM) executing within the mainframe. System z business users and IT can gain control of processes, while satisfying their needs for a highly available and powerful infrastructure.

Relieving Constraints

While BPM might be the optimal solution to help bring order to the chaos, IT is already dealing with rising costs of additional mainframe workloads. In the past, rising costs and skills constraints have fueled a reluctance to add new applications, such as IBM WebSphere Application Server, to the mainframe. Most z/OS software is priced based on the size of the machine and the number of machines it runs on. So as new applications were added and the processing capacity (commonly referred to as MIPS) increased—customers had to pay not only for additional System z hardware but also for all software installed on the machine—whether it was used as part of the new solution or not.

To alleviate this problem, IBM introduced specialty processors that make adding new applications far more economical. Coupling these cost-saving processors with the ability to offload some of the work to other OS platforms enables a better balance of skills across z/OS, Linux on System z and z/VM. As a result, introducing a new BPM application, for instance, becomes an easier argument to make, because businesses can gain the value of optimizing cross-system processes within the mainframe while mitigating inhibitors related to cost and skills.

Jeff Reser is the global product and solutions marketing manager at SUSE. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in astrophysics and computer science from Pennsylvania State University.



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