DevOps, Agile Breathe New Life Into the Mainframe: Compuware

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2016-07-27 Print this article Print

So we've delivered on all that now in ways that, as customers see it, the mainframe's going to be around for another 10 years because they see that IP—the code and the data that's in there—has got to be an integral part of their digital strategy. They see a need for investing in creating a transformed set of tools on the mainframe, and that opens an opportunity for us. It disrupts our competitors. The incumbents like IBM and CA that have these older, outdated technologies that are feature bloated and over-engineered all with a presumption of doing things in a waterfall state are put at risk as customers make these aggressive transitions. But that creates an opportunity for us.

The lifeblood of growth is innovation. And we've innovated over the last seven quarters. We've done more in the last seven quarters in terms of bringing in innovation to the mainframe platform than all the other vendors combined probably over the last five years. And it shows that customers need it and want it relative to our financial performance.

The areas of DevOps and Agile methods have been slow to gain traction within large enterprises. That's what has disadvantaged a lot of those companies because they're slow to get on the digital bandwagon and use mobile channels. But we're seeing a significant change in terms of attitude and disposition. So that's what's really becoming the genesis of our success in a way that we haven't seen on the mainframe. When's the last time a mainframe vendor told you they grew in bookings by 23 percent? Those are big numbers. We're seeing activity like we haven't seen before in this space.

What are your thoughts on the major "incumbents" like IBM trying to transform themselves? Can they pull it off and be the same company they are today (sizewise and otherwise)?

They're trying to change a tire on a moving car; it's a hard effort to retool in a way that they're trying to do. They've got these strategic imperatives that are dominated by cognitive and analytics—with Watson being the centerpiece, as well as the cloud and the movement of an increasing amount of work to the cloud. It was interesting that one of the comments made by IBM's CFO after their earnings results was that they're seeing it unlikely that system-of-record work would be going to the cloud and that it would rather be system-of-engagement work that goes to the cloud. That's another way of saying that people are going to leave a lot of stuff on the mainframe and that the workloads that are going to the cloud on the distributed side are those things that are necessary for mobile.

With the strategic imperatives that they're pursuing, they're trying to basically take the resources they have internally or go get new ones to pump up the volume in those areas. The risk that you run is that you so overly disrupt the core elements of the business that have made you incredibly successful for the last 100-plus years that IBM's been in existence. Because they don't have the luxury of being able to go after a different customer set for those strategic imperatives, they're going to go back and sell Watson and analytics to the exact same customers.

So in this transition it's incredibly important that they remain good stewards of what made them what they are in the eyes of their customers. And the centerpiece of that is the mainframe and continuing to make sure that those release cycles do occur and they keep up with market demand. Mobile and digital are driving huge back-end requirements. And IBM can't be so disruptive of itself that it loses sight of its focus on the mainframe. But it looks like the performance of those imperatives is in line. It's a tough transition for a company of that scale.


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