Pivotal + VMware: Transforming how more of the world builds software

Walking with the dinosaurs

Let’s hear it for the mainframe! IBM’s Big Iron turned 55 years old last week, on April 7. A lot has certainly changed in the intervening years. While today’s enterprises regularly deal in terabytes or even petabytes of data, when the IBM S/360 first entered the market in 1964, you would have needed a one-ton pickup truck just to install a humble 128KB of core RAM.

Yet despite the platform’s advancing age, it’s hardly ready for retirement. Many organizations have no plans to mothball their mainframes, now or in the foreseeable future. What’s more, while most of us see the cloud as the way forward, some customers have actually begun moving workloads the opposite direction, out of the cloud and back into traditional data centers—a phenomenon known as “cloud repatriation.”

But what about application modernization? Were these seemingly retrograde outfits’ plans for digital transformation misguided, doomed from the start? Not at all. These organizations are just recognizing the current reality: it’s a hybrid cloud, multi-cloud world.

The truth is, digital transformation can never be one-size-fits-all. According to the latest edition of the AFCOM State of the Data Center survey, 64% of respondents said they were planning to implement a public cloud strategy in the next 12 months. But fully 73% said they would invest in a private cloud, with 59% explicitly mentioning a hybrid cloud strategy.

Clearly, then, today’s IT mantra isn’t about resting on our laurels and continuing to rely on outdated, legacy applications. It’s about modernization, but it’s also about choosing the right tools—and the right battles.

Credit card and finance company Discover has some insights to share about that. With Pivotal’s help, in 2017 Discover embarked on a plan to modernize its back-office systems, which had an average age of 10 years. Among the most important lessons it learned along the way was that flexibility and adaptability are essential. Modernization solutions, once implemented, often need to be reworked before they fully match requirements. And in a few cases, Discover found the sheer amount of long-buried technical debt meant dragging its legacy data systems, kicking and screaming, into the modern world simply wasn’t worth it.

One best practice before embarking on a modernization effort is to survey the legacy applications that could use updating. For each, ask: How much risk is there in touching this application? And how much reward will there be if we go through the effort?

For example, a back-office application that’s running countless workloads around the clock could certainly benefit from the performance, storage, and networking improvements that come with a modern architecture. But if it’s so mission-critical that it can’t tolerate any downtime, performance dip, or unforeseen security vulnerability that arises from the upgrade, then it might be better to put that effort off until the requirements are better understood—or even skip it altogether.

By the same token, upgrading an application that looks like low-hanging fruit with an easy path to modernization, but which is seldom used, might also be a wasted effort.

As for cloud repatriation, there are several reasons why moving applications from the cloud back in-house or to a colocation data center might make sense, as this article from eWeek explains.

Of course, none of this is to say that application modernization is something to take for granted. Legacy applications can potentially expose an organization to serious risks, even if they appear to be only gathering dust. The key take-away should be that modernization requires adaptive planning and is best approached in stages. Along the way, you may find that even as you strive for the IT of tomorrow, there may yet be value in the systems and processes of yesteryear.

False sense of security

Big Companies Thought Insurance Covered a Cyberattack. They May Be Wrong. (New York Times): Think you’re covered? Don’t be too sure. If your claim is denied, you can thank U.S. politicians, who have characterized cyber-attacks as “acts of war” and “terrorism.” Proof yet again why comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is critical for any enterprise—and why, when security experts tell you to trust no one, they really mean it.

IBM: 77% of Enterprises Don’t Have a Cybersecurity Incident Response Plan (SDxCentral): Better hope you don’t get hacked, because chances are your organization won’t know what to do when you are. An IBM-sponsored poll by the Ponemon Institute found that less than a quarter of respondents had a cybersecurity incident response plan (CSIRP) that was applied uniformly across the enterprise—and that’s not the only way enterprises fall short. The article includes a link where you can download the full report if you give your email address.

Weighing the gavel on Big Tech companies

Silicon Valley’s self-regulating days “probably should be” over, Nancy Pelosi says (Recode): In the wake of intense scrutiny of Facebook for allowing inflammatory, hateful, and misleading information on its service, some lawmakers think it’s time to tighten the rules. In a podcast conversation with Recode’s Kara Swisher, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says letting large tech companies police themselves isn’t working.

Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon and Facebook (New York Times): Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed jail time for execs to hold corporations accountable for data breaches. Now she’s taken her rhetoric up another notch, proposing that our largest tech firms should be treated like monopolies and chopped up. Not everyone agrees.

Aggressive new terrorist content regulation passes EU vote (The Verge): The European Parliament has passed a strict and controversial law that requires companies—Facebook and YouTube being likely top targets—to take down online content deemed to promote terrorism or else face fines of up to 4% of revenue. Opponents say they “doubt the proposal’s objectives will be achieved.”

Even the government has no privacy

Hacker group posts hundreds of law officer records (Associated Press): A group thought to be based in Ukraine posted the personal information of some 1,400 federal agents and police officers, including home addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. But was it a direct attack on law enforcement or did they just want money?

Former WH senior advisor talks data privacy (Federal News Network): Long story short, the U.S. federal government has no clue when it comes to safeguarding its systems and networks. Says Marc Groman, former senior advisor for privacy at the White House, “We don’t incentivize data security enough. The incentive is to get your database up and running and I have been in more meetings than I can count where decisions were made to cut security.”


Benchmark Your Enterprise Cloud Adoption (Forrester; paid content)

Top 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration (Forrester; paid content)

Five Steps for CIOs to Cultivate a Digital Leadership Mindset (Gartner; subscription required)

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