By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

In today’s digitalized world, customers value transparency and accessibility above all else. As a result, organizations are taking a proactive approach to provide critical content to end users at the click of a button.

For over 130 years, Hastings Mutual Insurance Company has served and protected its clients throughout the Midwest. The regional insurance agency, with nearly 600 offices and 500 employees, has provided security and peace of mind to customers of all shapes and sizes, from small personal family policies to larger insurance packages that have helped to protect farmers and businesses from the unexpected. With over $1 billion in total assets, the company has grown significantly since its humble beginnings in 1885. Still, Hastings continues to pride itself on its relationships and the care it provides its customers. That is why Hastings Mutual decided to look closely at how it managed and distributed its content to its clients.

Since the early 1980s, the company has used an in-house Policy Administration System (PAS) with what is today Rocket Software’s Mobius Content Services Platform to classify, manage, and grant access along its mainframe to more than 4,000 unique document types. Although current operations were running optimally, Hastings understood that its PAS’s lack of integration with modern technologies would eventually create issues. Hastings management decided on a proactive approach, taking on the challenge of modernizing its existing mainframe operations to an open-source environment to remain competitive in future markets. In its push to modernize, the regional insurance provider also believed updating its client viewing system to provide a more intuitive, user-friendly experience would benefit its customers and employees alike.

The challenges of preserving historical data

While migrating information from the mainframe to open source comes with its own obstacles, Hastings Mutual faced even greater challenges. The company had been developing and storing mission-critical documents and information on its old infrastructure for over three decades — including regulatory, accounting, and workflow documents. Not only would Hastings need to find a way to continue generating these documents throughout the migration process, but it was also essential to maintain the integrity of its historical documents and information during its transfer onto open-source systems. Failure to do so could lead to regulatory sanctions and even legal implications.

With limited resources and a lack of experience with mainframe migration, Hastings realized it needed help to clean up its Logical Partition (LPAR), preserve the integrity of its historical documents, and successfully downsize its mainframe operations — all while maintaining fluid operations.

Finding the right support for mainframe migration

Hastings turned to Rocket Software, whose Professional Services team got to work immediately to assist Hastings’ operational team in the clean-up of its existing LPAR environment. Together, the teams went through each historical document within the LPAR to rename and properly segment it for migration to the correct open-source system. 

Once documents were properly classified and stored within the LPAR ecosystem, Hastings turned its attention to mainframe migration. Hastings was able to modernize its mainframe operations while still utilizing its PAS in conjunction with Mobius Content Services to generate critical documents on its mainframe. After generation, the documents were automatically duplicated and safely transferred to the proper open-source environment. And Hastings was able to begin the migration of its historical documents safely and securely from the mainframe to its open-source systems. 

Improving customer experience

Hastings’ pivot to a more innovative web client has also been essential to the migration’s success and the company’s growing customer satisfaction. Now, end users can access Hastings’ digitized documents with the click of a button — reducing document latency and making high-priority documents available within seconds rather than minutes. And having an intuitive open-source viewing system has empowered Hastings’ end users to find critical information faster and without the hassle of asking for assistance.

The benefits of great partnership

As a result of the project, Hastings Mutual continues to successfully move toward a hybrid open-source infrastructure. The company was able to modernize its operations to produce, store, and distribute documents to its clients faster, more securely, and at a lower cost.

Throughout the migration process, Hastings has not missed a beat. As a regional insurance provider, the ability to continue to provide outstanding service to clients when they need it the most has been pivotal.

As Mainframe experts, Rocket Software helps businesses avoid complications and enhance the management and security of their most critical information. To learn more about our suite of Mobius products, click here.

Digital Transformation

By Milan Shetti, CEO Rocket Software

According to a recent Rocket Software survey, 80% of IT professionals categorize the mainframe as critical to their business. But in order to be successful in today’s technology-driven world, businesses that rely on the mainframe must modernize their operations and integrate the latest tools and technologies. Companies choosing to abandon their mainframe face a costly endeavor, risk downtime, and lose out on powerful benefits. Modernizing in place allows businesses to continue leveraging their technology investments through modernization without sacrificing the many benefits provided by mainframes.

One technology that modern mainframes need is secure open-source software. Four years ago, the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe Project introduced Zowe, a first-of-its-kind open-source framework based on z/OS, making it easier than ever to connect the gap between modern applications and the mainframe. Rocket Software is a founding member of the Zowe coalition, and our engineers have played an integral role in the evolution of the Zowe open-source framework. Open-source technologies provide organizations with the responsiveness and adaptability they need to implement advanced tools and practices that balance developers desire to work with the latest technology and organizational need for security and support.

Read on to learn more about why modern mainframes need secure open source.

Benefits of modernizing the mainframe

There is no denying the importance of mainframes within the enterprises that use them. Respondents to Rocket’s survey say the top three qualities that contribute to their organization’s reliance on the mainframe are reliability (34%), security (27%), and efficiency (22%). Modernizing in place is a great way for mainframe-reliant businesses to meet demands while positioning themselves for future success with an efficient and sustainable IT infrastructure.

Open-source software provides many benefits that can help businesses modernize mainframe development through capabilities that drive application and infrastructure modernization, accelerate application development, and enable the next generation of developers. Through DevOps/AppDev solutions, businesses can bring the accessibility of open source to the mainframe while ensuring the compliance and security of their system’s data. By automating processes, organizations can easily implement modern application development practices while ensuring compliance to organizational standards and business rules. Because of the development of open DevOps/AppDev solutions, businesses can bring applications to market faster, at lower cost, and with less risk.

Why the mainframe needs secure open source

Open-source solutions can provide the mainframe with a litany of benefits, but like any other technology, open source is not foolproof and comes with its own challenges. One of the main open-source challenges is regarding its security as applications are developed and delivered to and from the mainframe. Organizations are also concerned that if there are vulnerabilities found in open-source software, they will take a long time to fix. 

To overcome these challenges, organizations must take a security-first mindset and partner with industry-leading vendors to ensure that they have the capabilities to identify vulnerabilities and make fixes in time to mitigate security risks. For example, Rocket Support for Zowe gives users access to modern capabilities from the Open Mainframe Project’s Zowe open-source framework that makes it easier to interface and develop applications while providing 24/7 support, security, and compliance assurance.

The mainframe has been around for more than 50 years, and with the ability to integrate the latest technologies to match today’s business needs, it’s not going anywhere. Modernizing mainframe development with open-source software will enhance development practices while ensuring compliance to organizational standards and business rules.

To learn more about the power of open source on the mainframe, visit our website.

Digital Transformation

Data is the lifeforce of modern business: It accelerates revenue, fuels innovation, and enhances customer experiences that drive small and mid-size businesses forward, faster. Yet while data-driven modernization is a top priority, achieving it requires confronting a host of data storage challenges that slow you down: management complexity and silos, specialized tools, constant firefighting, complex procurement, and flat or declining IT budgets.

To truly modernize today, you need more than a faster and more powerful box. You need to break away from legacy infrastructure and elevate your storage experience with a platform that simplifies and automates everything, ensures apps are always on and always fast, and unlocks agility by delivering the cloud experience everywhere.

Sound intimidating? When your next mid-range storage refresh rolls around, here are five key strategies to successful modernization:

1. Go faster with a cloud experience everywhere

Public cloud has set the standard for agility with a cloud operational model that enables line of business (LOB) owners and developers to build and deploy new applications, services, and projects faster than ever before. Now, extending that idea further, small- and mid-sized organizations are racing to bring the benefits of the cloud operational experience to wherever their apps and data live, from edge to on-prem to colo.

Simplifying operations and moving faster with a cloud experience everywhere is critical to organizations: According to ESG, 91% of IT leaders identify mature cloud operations on-premises as the single most important step to eliminating complexity. The same survey reported that more than 4 in 5 IT leaders are under pressure to deliver more cloud experiences to end users, which is a challenge when up to 70% of enterprise apps and data remain on-prem due to data gravity, latency, application dependency, and compliance requirements.

Simplifying and automating on-prem storage with the self-service agility of a cloud operational experience changes the mid-range storage game entirely. Leveraging AIOps, a cloud-managed, on-prem mid-range storage platform makes underlying data infrastructure invisible — eliminating silos, complexity, and the burden of day-to-day storage administration while shifting operations from an infrastructure-focused to an app-focused model. Unlike traditional storage management, a cloud operational experience delivers the self-service storage provisioning agility that your LOB owners and developers need to accelerate app deployment while also freeing IT resources to work on strategic, higher-value initiatives.

2. Put storage on autopilot with an AI-managed service

A true cloud operational experience should be powered by the data-driven insights and intelligence provided by advanced AI for infrastructure. Why is that important? Because AI-powered autonomous operations ensure apps are always on and always fast — which means your organization can say goodbye to endless firefighting.

With an AI-managed service, you can predict and prevent disruptions before they occur across the stack, pinpoint issues between storage and VMs, and identify underutilized virtual resources. Your admins can rely on AI-driven recommendations to take the guesswork out of managing data infrastructure, and you eliminate time-consuming escalations through predictive support automation and direct access to experts.

3. Get optimum price performance for general-purpose workloads

As small- and mid-range organizations continue to experience flat or declining IT budgets, hybrid storage solutions have become increasingly efficient at delivering the performance companies need for their mix of primary workload, secondary backup, and disaster recovery workloads while helping to contain the cost of rapidly growing data volumes. Hybrid storage solutions balance performance and cost by storing active and frequently accessed data on flash storage while storing inactive or less important data on more affordable media.

The most advanced hybrid arrays combine flash performance with disk economics. They feature ultra-efficient architectures designed from the ground up to deliver fast, consistent performance and industry-leading data efficiency. Look for a hybrid storage solution that accelerates your apps with sub-millisecond latency, writes to cost-optimized disk at flash speeds via write serialization, and offers dynamic flash caching to speed your reads even as workloads change in real time.

Modern hybrid flash arrays can also help you increase storage efficiency while lowering costs and footprint. They do this with advanced, always-on data reduction — encompassing deduplication, compression, zero-pattern elimination, thin provisioning, and thin clones — which can deliver up to 5x the space savings without performance penalty.

4. Depend on a resilient, proven platform

Mid-size organizations increasingly rely on applications to handle everything from back-end operations to the delivery of products and services. That’s why proven availability, protecting data, and ensuring applications stay up are more important than ever before.

Advanced, AI-driven arrays eliminate the anxiety and disruption of unexpected downtime by guaranteeing resilient six-nines data availability based on real, achieved values (as opposed to theoretical projections) and measured across an entire installed base. Paired with advanced AI for infrastructure that predicts and prevents problems, your arrays should get smarter, better, and more reliable every day.

Don’t accept trade-offs between data resilience and performance. Your mid-range storage array should deliver Triple+ Parity RAID as standard, with zero performance impact. Triple+ Parity RAID can sustain three simultaneous drive failures without data loss and provides additional protection through intra-drive parity.

Ensure your recovery SLAs with fast, simple, and integrated app-aware backup and recovery — on premises and in the cloud. Natively replicate from all-flash arrays to hybrid arrays and leverage a SaaS-based backup and recovery service to simplify hybrid cloud data protection with instant restores, rapid recovery on premises and cost-effective, long-term retention in the cloud.

5. Consume as a service, on demand

Finally, you should be able to choose how to consume your mid-range storage array with either Capex or pay-per-use options. A flexible as-a-service consumption model enables you to avoid over- and under-provisioning concerns, Capex budget constraints, and complex procurement cycles.

How so? First, by easily getting the storage resources needed with workload-optimized storage tiers delivered in days. Second, by scaling on-demand and as necessary, with buffer capacity for unexpected workloads or usage demands. And third, by moving from heavy up-front costs to transparent, predictable monthly payments based on actual metered consumption — with complete visibility into your storage utilization at any time.

It’s time to rethink mid-range storage

Taken together, these five strategies point to a mid-range primary storage solution that makes it easy to focus on data-driven modernization and accelerating innovation — without having to deal with legacy storage headaches, disruptions, or high costs.

At HPE, we’re delivering exactly that: simple, reliable, and cost-efficient hybrid storage, adaptively designed for both general purpose and secondary workloads. Built from the DNA of the HPE Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash array, HPE Alletra 5000 brings the cloud experience to your on-premises storage and simplifies operations across the lifecycle, from deployment to provisioning to upgrades.

HPE Alletra 5000 speeds time to value by delivering 99% operational time savings via intent-based provisioning, which enables line of business and database admins to self-provision storage for faster app deployments. It also eliminates app disruptions and firefighting thanks to HPE InfoSight, the industry’s most advanced AIOps for infrastructure. You get absolute resiliency with guaranteed six-nines data availability, Triple+ Parity RAID, and simple hybrid cloud data protection — and optimal flash price performance for your general-purpose workloads with a unique, ultra-efficient architecture. Even better, you can consume HPE Alletra 5000 as a service via HPE GreenLake, enabling you to shift from owning and maintaining data infrastructure to simply accessing and utilizing it.

If your next storage refresh doesn’t offer capabilities like these, it’s time to rethink your mid-range storage and aim for true data-driven modernization.

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About Simon Watkins

Simon Watkins is a Worldwide Senior Product Marketing Manager with HPE Storage. The 20-year veteran of the storage industry started his career in data protection, and spent the last few years working in primary storage, most recently helping drive the transformation of the HPE Storage business from a hardware vendor to a cloud data services provider.  He holds an Executive MBA from the London Business School as well as a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cambridge University in the UK.

Data Management, HPE, IT Leadership