Mainframe Blog

The Dance of Mainframe Management

4 minute read
April Hickel

Have you ever watched a group of dancers and thought, “How do they do that?” Whether it’s a dance team at a sporting event, a group doing a line dance at a wedding, or just someone cutting a rug at a party, it’s easy to watch others with awe. Dancing involves more than just innate skill; learning what to do, practicing those moves, and making changes along the way are part of the process of becoming a good dancer.

Come to think of it, dancing isn’t all that different from mainframe management. Nobody is born knowing exactly what to do to keep a mainframe organization running successfully; learning new skills, mastering them, and adapting to change are crucial to your organization’s success.

The 1970s brought new looks to the worlds of mainframe and of dance. As disco fever was gripping the world, so too was a new way of working on the mainframe. While the shift from punch cards to 3270 “green screen” terminals may not have been as groovy as doing the hustle under mirrored balls, each had their moments, but are now outdated. It may have been the epitome of hip in 1974, but appearing on a dancefloor in a leisure suit and platform shoes in 2023 will draw some looks. In mainframe management, as in dancing, leaders need update their repertoire to keep up with the times.

Becoming an all-star dancer

So, how can you keep up with the times and ensure that your organization is making the most of modern techniques? Envision mainframe transformation as a graceful dance into the future and learn three key steps: mainframe DevOps, system monitoring and observability, and utilizing the hybrid cloud.

Get your groove on with mainframe DevOps

Just like successful dance teams, development and operations teams must move in harmony, collaborating to create development and delivery processes that work together in-sync. Particularly useful is the adoption of enterprise-wide development and delivery practices that are used across both mainframe and distributed teams.

Also key to DevOps success is the ability to master the newest dance moves, leveraging the latest development tools and practices, including a modern integrated development environment (IDE), automated continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines, and shift-left automated testing to create an integrated DevOps toolchain that enables seamless collaboration and grants better visibility throughout the develop and deploy workflow. Modern tooling also helps recruit and retain top talent and reduces the learning curve for new hires by providing a developer experience that matches the practices developers are learning in school and on other platforms.

This combination of harmony and modern techniques improves overall agility, a trait essential to both dance troupes and DevOps teams. The ability to quickly pivot and react to changing market conditions with applications and services that exceed your customers’ expectations can give your organization a distinct competitive advantage.

Getting jiggy with IT: artificial intelligence (AI) for mainframe

In terms of mainframe operations, AI fills a number of roles needed by every successful dance team:

  • In automated operations, AI acts as a kind of choreographer, orchestrating seamless mainframe operations, automating routine tasks and ensuring a fluid allocation of resources while reducing manual intervention and operational costs.
  • Using predictive analytics, AI steps into the role of a clairvoyant dancer, helping mainframe teams foresee and prevent performance bottlenecks and outages, ensuring a reliable and uninterrupted performance.
  • Like a nimble dancer, AI detects threats, identifying potential vulnerabilities and cyberattacks in real-time and responding swiftly to secure mainframe performance.
  • AI jazzes up data analytics, extracting soulful insights from mainframe data, offering an improvisation of advanced analytics for smarter business decisions and a competitive edge.
  • Acting as a helpful partner, AI utilizes chatbots and virtual assistants to take the lead guiding us through the dance of mainframe tasks, providing efficient support and ensuring a seamless user experience.

Tango in the cloud

Leveraging cloud integration with the mainframe was cited by 35 percent of BMC Mainframe Survey respondents as a top priority in the coming year. Organizations are looking to leverage the cloud to dance to a leaner, cost-optimized tune while swapping intricate choreography for a streamlined data ecosystem thanks to hybrid cloud data management.

Additional advantages, like enhanced security compliance, cyber resilience, and the ability to harness AI-based analytics for mainframe data make the cloud a worthy dance partner.

Integration with the cloud ensures that mainframe data remains nimble with real-time analysis and insight, enhances data security, and provides a cost-effective, scalable environment to store and manage increasing volumes of mainframe data.

Dance like nobody’s watching

While these steps may take more practice than shifting from the robot to the macarena to the dab, learning these three dance steps will help your organization face today’s mainframe challenges and be prepared to adapt to whatever moves the future may hold.

Looking to dance to the perfect song?

At our recent Mainframe Executive Council meeting in Nashville, BMC’s mainframe experts joined with executives who are driving the mainframe forward and, with the help of singer-songwriter Meghan Linsey, wrote our very own mainframe anthem, “Mainframe Proud.” Listen to the song now and follow along with the lyrics printed below.


We are the original cloud
We put the man on the moon
We are resilient and proud
Been around forever
But we’re brand new

The world’s just out here having fun
They don’t know they need us to run
Airplanes flying
Credit card swiping
Packages arriving
That’s Us

We run the world
We run the world
Flying through the hybrid clouds
We run the world
We run the world
Making sure it don’t break down
We run the world
We run the world
Yeah, we’re mainframe proud

We’re always innovating
Writing code til my head is aching
Staying up til the work is done
Will I ever see the sun

New codes arriving on time
The test ran well, it’s a good sign
Somehow we get it done
That’s why we’re number one

We run the world
We run the world
Flying through the hybrid clouds
We run the world
We run the world
Making sure it don’t break down
We run the world
We run the world
Yeah, we’re mainframe proud

Access the 2023 Mainframe Report

The results of the 18th annual BMC Mainframe Survey are in, and the state of the mainframe remains strong. Overall perception of the mainframe is positive, as is the outlook for future growth on the platform, with workloads growing and investment in new technologies and processes increasing.

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

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About the author

April Hickel

Vice President Intelligent Z Optimization and Transformation