SHARE 2022, IBM z16 and the Role of AI in Modern IT Systems Management
After a couple of years without in person events for the mainframe IT space, the SHARE in Dallas opened its doors in March 2022. SHARE is an independent volunteer-run information technology association that provides education, professional networking and industry influence for the enterprise IT community where mainframe plays a pivotal role.
With a full conference pass one could find at least one session of interest in each and every time slot. The sessions concentrated on Security, Modernization, and AIOps enabling for a deeper understanding to help mainframe orgnizations answer two key questions:
- How zCX and Zowe can and are being used to modernize mainframe workloads or integrate them in a hybrid cloud?
- To what extent do AIOps solutions actually use ML/DL (Machine Learning or Deep Learning) to discover and delivery insights from system metrics and logs?
Question #1: How zCX and Zowe can and are being used to modernize mainframe workloads and integrate them in a hybrid cloud.
The set of sessions on zCX (z Container Extensions) provided high level information on how they can be used and the value they deliver. At its most basic, zCX enables containerized linux applications to run in a z/OS address space. Because zCX runs on zIIPs, it may not add any additional cost to the existing software stack. As such, it holds high promise to enable modern (open source and such) workloads that may have originated on cloud or distributed platforms to be deployed on z/OS. There seems to be a lot of interest but not many actual scenarios were discussed at the conference.
There was more content around Zowe – an open source initiative within the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project founded by CA Technologies (that is Broadcom), IBM and Rocket Software. ZOWe is the first open source project based on z/OS. A lot of the sessions focused on using the CLI and APIs which to me makes the most sense, because they enable modern integrations with services running on a cloud somewhere.
Both zCX and ZOWe together, will allow easy integration with the existing mainframe workloads that power core business applications for many enterprises. In addition, those organizations that want to take advantage of mainframe scalability, qualities of service, and security for parts of their solutions that originated on cloud or distributed platforms will be able to do so.
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Question #2: To what extent do AIOps solutions actually use ML/DL (Machine Learning or Deep Learning) to discover and delivery insights from system metrics and logs?
It is clear that most vendors have made tremendous progress at incorporating AI into their solutions as evidenced in a number of the sessions and discussions at the booths showcasing AIOps solutions. Most of the focus was around anomaly detection and determining the health of systems. Both are of great interest to many orignizations and would have been great if some of those organizations would have presented how they are using those capabilities.
On April 5th, IBM announced the coming of their newest mainframe – z16 with a key pillar of innovation to enable and accelerate AI on the platform. The pieces are coming together nicely to allow for cost effective use of AI in solutions that help organizations proactively and automatically optimize the use of the IT Infrastructure and systems. That could include everything from using machine learning to proactively catch lead indicators to potential issues that give non-subject matter experts the ability to take AI recommended mitigating action to enabling AI in individual software that is self-managed and self-tuned. It will be truly exciting to see how AI transforms how to use IT systems.
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