Evangelizing Mainframe
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The Internet of Things Has Challenges, Resources

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the Internet of the future, powering billions of integrated devices and processes across industries and global locations. There are an estimated 15 billion IoT devices today and industry predicts that by 2020 possibly 50 billion devices will be connected.

Think about that for a moment: 50 billion connected devices and a large share of those 50 billion devices will be connected to a mainframe. The IoT will connect to just about anything capable of IP communications and smart enough to send or receive a message. Wearables, smart home devices, smartphones, tablets, medical devices, hospital equipment, industrial devices, sensors and chips of all sorts, and smart cars will be connected.

The IoT is the platform of anytime, anything and any place connectivity.

IoT Challenges

The IoT has arrived and will continue to evolve and affect corporate environments. Business and technology executives must focus on critical operational considerations as follows:

Scalability
An IoT environment contains two scalability issues, each of which poses unique challenges for users and corporations. The first scalability issue is based on the number of connected devices. The sheer number of connected devices; the quantity of connected devices, mainly the number of concurrent connections (throughput) a system can support
and the quality of service (QoS) that can be delivered. The second issue is based on the volume of generated data. IoT systems need to handle both device and data scalability issues. From a data standpoint, this is Big Data on steroids.

Availability
IoT availability involves recoverability and reliability.

Manageability
Currently, only IT-related systems, such as servers, computers and storage devices, are managed under a governance model. New approaches are needed to develop an IoT architecture and to manage its lifecycle.

Managing data
Big data and the IoT are computing paradigms that, together, fundamentally change the nature of how we work, play and interact with our environment.

Security
Traditional lT security establishes secure boundaries and firewalls around internal IT systems. However, with the IoT, the concept of controlled access is changing to one of controlled trust that offers the widest range of possible solutions.

Usability
Usability has a broad role in the solutions of the future. Traditionally, most IT solutions were task-based and allowed for task-based training. With IoT solutions, this type of training can be complex and ineffective, which requires devices to offer new and higher usability levels that bridge cultural differences and wide ranges of user knowledge and skills.

Mainframe’s Role

Scalability, availability, manageability, security, managing data, usability. These are natural tasks for the mainframe.

Mainframe organizations have long handled large networks of connected devices. Think networks such as ATM, POS or utility meters. The mainframe is well suited to provide a central platform for IoT. The z Systems platform has the power to connect large dispersed networks, capture and process the mountains of data produced every minute, and provide the security and privacy companies and individuals demand. In addition, it can accept, process and interpret all that data in a useful way. In short, it may be the only general commercial computing platform powerful enough today to crunch vast quantities of data very quickly and is already proven to perform millions of transactions per second securely.

However, ATM and POS networks are much more controlled and understood. IoT presents a very chaotic component. The end points aren’t known. Not knowing what the connecting device is and the capabilities it brings or how many you are dealing with at any given moment or where they are coming from is a formidable challenge.

IoT Resources

Mainframe and other IT Skills for the IoT are important. Some key resources and programs that help include:

CICS: CICS provides services that extend or replace the functions of the OS and are more efficient than the generalized services and simpler for programmers to use, particularly with respect to communication with diverse terminal devices.
IBM DB2: DB2 offers high performance support for both transactional processing and speed-of-thought analytics, providing the right foundation for today’s and tomorrow’s needs. We’ve all heard the phrase “garbage in, garbage out,” and this is so true in today’s big data world. But it’s not just about good data; it’s also about the infrastructure that captures and delivers data to business applications and provides timely and actionable insights to those who need to understand, to make decisions, to act, to move the business forward.
Hadoop: One of the top reasons that organizations turn to Hadoop is its ability to store and process huge amounts of any kind of data quickly.
Linux: The IoT is the idea that all of the devices and gadgets that you interact with could be connected to the Internet. A simple, customizable open source OS designed for these types of embedded systems would make it easier for a lot of manufacturers to bring viable products to the market. As Linux and open-source deployments move from niche projects to being more pervasive in the data center to support the business, it’s imperative that these applications be fully supported by enterprise-grade capabilities such as nondisruptive scalability, unparalleled availability and continuous data protection. This is especially important for business-critical applications—essentially the solutions that support your entire organization and require 24-7 availability.
Spark SQL: Spark SQL is a component on top of Spark Core that introduces a new data abstraction called DataFrames, which provides support for structured and semi-structured data.
WebSphere: WebSphere is IBM's application and integration software platform. It includes the entire middleware infrastructure including servers, services and tools needed to create, deploy, run and monitor round-the-clock, enterprisewide Web applications and cross-platform, cross-product solutions.
RACF: RACF is an IBM software product, a security system that provides access control and auditing functionality for the z/OS and z/VM OSs.

True Systems Intelligence

The IoT will require us to shift the focus from simple device monitoring to a model where device data is aggregated into new applications and tools to achieve true systems intelligence. Whatever eventually shakes out, mainframe organizations should be right in the middle of the IoT action.

Ron Fresquez is CEO of zSkills Corp. He can be reached at Ron@zskillscorp.com.

Posted: 1/5/2016 12:00:47 AM by Ron Fresquez

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