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Challenges of Managing Technology Despite Increasing Complexity

IT challenges

IT has grown and changed over the last 50 years. As with any discipline, 50 years of evolution has caused the accumulation of many artifacts, legacies and conventions. This article is about IT today and the challenge of managing and controlling technology in light of more than five decades of transformation.

Why More Complexity?

For decades, IT has been growing in size and scope while the technology deployed continues to transform. When a new approach emerges and gains traction, the technology systems that are in place don’t suddenly go away but are subtly impacted by the new technology. An example of an impactful new approach is using technology to web-enable a web-unaware legacy IBM CICS application using the CICS 3270 Bridge. New technology like this introduces complexity.

The Coexistence of Mainframe, Distributed and Cloud Computing

In the last 50 years, the attention in computing platforms has changed from the mainframe to distributed computing to cloud computing, yet each platform’s still vital in the landscape of today’s computing. These platforms coexist and cooperate in the support of applications. The business requirement for mainframe and distributed teams to work togetheris more important than ever as many mission-critical applications span multiple platforms. These platforms share data and resources, yet often use different management platforms and strategies. Integrating systems and teams can be very challenging.

Mainframes Have New Workloads

For mainframes, there’s never been a time when there were more MIPS in the marketplace being utilized by applications. New workloads have emerged using Linux in LPARs and VMs on mainframe hardware. At the same time, distributed servers have grown in number and power and experienced a transformation fueled by the emergence of virtualization technologies that bring mainframe-like partitioning to mid-sized systems. Hybrid computing is emerging as an important point of contact between existing systems and new cloud services. New software, including API and hybrid cloud integration products, API and hybrid cloud integration products makes it possible to bring together cloud and on-premise applications. However, the coexistence of these systems and emerging technologies introduces additional complexity.

The growth, origins, changes and implications of IT complexity are summarized in Figure 1.

Respond to Complexity

What strategies can be employed to help address these challenges? Here are six strategic suggestions to reduce complexity in today’s changing IT landscape (see Table 1). This is a starter set for your strategic thinking.

Embrace Open Standards

Today, companies see the benefits of embracing open standards—but not all have pursued this goal to a significant degree. Some haven’t embraced this initiative out of a fear to introduce change. Open standards can have a significant impact in a number of ways.

With open standards, a company has less of a chance of being locked into a specific technology or vendor. With open standards, there’s the possibility of easier interoperability of systems from different suppliers. More choices could be available from different vendors offering the opportunity to mix and match best-of-breed solutions. Applications built on open standards are easier to port from one platform to another. Nah Soo Hoe discusses these and other benefits in his book called Open Standards.

Joseph Gulla is the general manager and IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of award-winning children’s books. Joe is a frequent contributor to IBM Destination z (the community where all things mainframe converge) and writes weekly for the IT Trendz blog where he explores a wide range of topics that interconnect with IBM Z.

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