Innovate in Place: Less Risk. More Return.

November 1, 2022

Today, competitive forces are fiercer than ever in the marketplace. Companies need to continuously transform business models, products and services, and their infrastructure needed to support it all if they want to thrive and lead. Time and cost are of the essence.

To innovate faster and more successfully than your competitors, you have to make the technology choices that strike the right balance between risk and reward. Even with its many advantages, accelerating adoption of Public Cloud alone is not the end-all-be-all answer. A Hybrid Cloud model on the other hand, when done right, offers the flexibility to leverage both new and existing technology investments in ways that truly generate the most business value.

Moving to the Cloud for Cloud’s sake can become a recipe for disappointment. The reason? Many organizations are simply attempting a lift-and-shift, moving their code to the Cloud but not modernizing it in any meaningful way. As a result, they don’t get any of the benefits in terms of improved performance, reliability, or new capability. The return on the effort just isn’t there and can create a recipe for other headaches.

Instead, organizations should build and improve on what they already have. Double down on the best practices of proven assets, like business applications, logic, and systems. That way organizations can benefit from the assets’ strengths and extend them to create new business opportunities. Some mistakenly position Mainframe and other on-prem technology in opposition to the Cloud, but the reality is it shouldn’t be an either-or scenario. The answer is to use both.

Look Before You Leap

Some applications are a better fit for the Cloud, while others align better with the Mainframe. The goal should be to run each workload on the platform that best serves your business.

When examining options for the future of your tech stack, consider looking at a few different aspects before leaping into a solution:

  • What business opportunities are you trying to capitalize on?
  • How do you need to evolve your technology stack to capitalize on those opportunities?
  • What unique strengths do your different platforms deliver?
  • What area needs improvements most urgently and what is the value add?
  • What are the risks, costs, and return on effort for each path forward?
woman observing database Per articleSome workloads are more appropriate for the Cloud, while others align with the Mainframe's strengths - they can coexist.

Answering these questions will be key to understanding what sort of tech solution is best for your needs and customers. According to the 2022 Global Hybrid Cloud Trends Report, a whopping 82% of IT leaders have adopted Hybrid Cloud—and there’s a good reason why. Hybrid Cloud leverages the right mix of Cloud and on-prem technologies to accelerate digital transformation. The challenge is determining the optimal balance. The answers to the above questions will help you arrive at the best approach. They should also point you toward an important realization: the best path forward will often be one that provides you the freedom and flexibility to Innovate in Place.

Build on What Works

Innovate in Place is a hybrid strategy that leverages a business’s existing, proven systems and applications to fuel rapid and cost-efficient innovation. Put another way, it’s a model for success where you build upon what you have instead of reinventing the wheel. Workloads appropriate for the Cloud should coexist with workloads that align with the Mainframe's strengths, not try to replace them. There are several ways to Innovate in Place:

  1. Vitalize innovation and customer engagement with APIs

The fastest way to advance innovative customer engagement models is to build new Cloud-based applications that reuse your proven business logic and data. You can do this simply by creating business-attuned APIs for your core business applications. APIs done right provide easy access to the wealth of capabilities and data on the Mainframe, while hiding all of the complexity. Using open APIs:

  • Eliminates the need for Mainframe-specific skills
  • Enables you to retain all of the Mainframe’s security and reliability
  • Radically reduces the cost, risk, and time it would take to rebuild these capabilities on another platform

A common misstep businesses make is producing APIs that only mimic the Mainframe structure. While providing an easy path forward for API developers, it does not hide all of the complexity and can drive up latency and computing overhead. To solve for this, Broadcom has invested in a low-cost, low-risk way to create business-oriented APIs that makes life easier for Cloud developers. You get access to the data and functionality on the Mainframe, while minimizing overhead and latency.

  1. Improve agility and the developer experience with modernized DevOps

Over the last 20 years, many businesses have invested in people, processes, and tools on the Distributed side, yet made no or limited investments on the Mainframe side. Now when faced with an issue, the assumption is that the problem is with the Mainframe.

The truth is, with open source tools, you can provide a modern developer experience with the same DevOps process as you use for other platforms. You get modern CI/CD pipelines, automated testing, and more. It's simply a matter of completing the investments without abandoning what you have.

Combining Mainframe-native tools with DevOps tools that are platform-agnostic, community-based, and non-proprietary, gives developers freedom of choice. This empowers them to streamline code delivery while simultaneously increasing velocity and quality. Not only does this improve business agility, it also addresses skills issues, rapidly enabling university graduates to become productive developers on the Mainframe.

  1. Enhance efficiency through application refactoring

Sometimes, an application’s original code design and structure can hinder business agility and introduce inefficiencies in your Hybrid Cloud. When you Innovate in Place, you invest in existing tech to increase agility and efficiency. Here again, APIs play a fundamental role.

For example, past modernization efforts may have included screen scraping or other ineffective and inefficient means for external systems to interact with the Mainframe. Instead, streamlining integrations to leverage business-oriented APIs can radically reduce costs. It also reduces latency, which leads to improved customer experience.

For some applications, the majority of updates are to business rules, such as what interest rate is associated with a certain account type. Often these business rules represent a very small percentage of total code. By factoring them out from the main code, you can make rapid changes to that portion of the application without extensive knowledge of the entire code base.

"... 86% of executives see the Mainframe as a competitive advantage."

Strike a Balance Between Risk and Results

Innovating in Place is all about finding a balance that enables you to improve the ROI of your technology investments. Reuse what is already proven—evolving existing assets and processes to extend their value—and build from scratch where needed.

Your efforts should focus on key business and customer needs, with careful consideration given to cost, effort, and risk. That’s the better strategy to achieve more expedient and cost-effective business results. Evidence suggests industry leaders agree with this approach. That’s why 87% of executives view the Mainframe as an integral part of their hybrid cloud strategy and an almost equal number (86%) see it as a competitive advantage.2

If you’d like to discuss the topic of Innovating In Place further, please contact me directly at

Citation sources:

  1. Cisco 2022 Global Hybrid Cloud Trends Report. Accessed October 1, 2022.
  1. EMA Research Report: The Role of the Mainframe in a Hybrid-Cloud World. Published 2021. Accessed October 1, 2022.