The next generation of AI-driven innovation is reshaping the marketplace – and yes, the modern mainframe has a crucial seat at the table. A recent IDC white paper commissioned by OpenText, The Modern Mainframe – Automated, Protected, Connected, highlights that traditional host systems can be pivotal for digital transformation as the applications that run on these platforms are of high business value.
A critical step is to integrate the host with modern systems to achieve full value from mainframe systems and data. However, integration is not without its challenges – the greatest being security. Security must be front and center of any host integration strategy. In this post, I share three considerations for accelerating digital transformation initiatives using the mainframe.
Ensure secure application access
An IDC survey found that 42% of organizations with IBM Z experienced 10–100 successful security attacks in 2022. As a result, 21% of organizations have suffered significant data theft due to a security attack, 20% saw significant data loss, 17% suffered significant loss of revenue, and 16% faced regulatory penalties.
Secure application access must live up to modern security standards. Knowing who is connecting to the network and ensuring they are authorized to access sensitive data is typically done on an identity and access management (IAM) system. But rarely is that same IAM system used on the host. To achieve complete protection, organizations need to close this gap. The same IAM should be used on the host as is used on the enterprise. This will help create secure application access, enabling regulatory compliance and helping to prevent cyberattacks.
Introduce strong multi-factor authentication
To further increase security for host access, organizations can implement multi-factor authentication (MFA). As cyberattacks and breaches increase, mainframe organizations face two major challenges: Many users are accessing the mainframe using an eight-character, case insensitive password; and organizations often struggle with having separate MFA appliances – one for the mainframe and one for the enterprise. The solution is to eliminate eight-character passwords through strong access controls, and unify authentication by extending the same MFA to the host as is used in the enterprise.
As an example, OpenText customer E.Miroglio EAD, a manufacturer of textile products, had functional limitations on its terminal emulation solution. It was difficult to track and control user licenses, resulting in critical users being denied access which negatively affected productivity.
Maurizio Chiavazza, IT Manager, E.Miroglio, says, “We were able to extend our production management system to remote users, who can access it using a variety of devices, including Apple Mac and any smart mobile device. This saves us time and ensures the system is kept updated at all times, improving our response time to the business. We are pleased to take central control of the management of all host connectivity activities, while adding more secure access and providing our users with time-saving features.”
Utilize robotic process automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a key part of modernizing host access. IDC says that immediately after security, automation is the number two priority for organizations.
When applied to host access, RPA automates complicated business processes by orchestrating data exchange between desktop, web, and terminal-based applications. Robots do the work of communicating with applications in attended and unattended scenarios. The goal for these two scenarios is to reduce errors, decrease costs, increase productivity, improve customer service, and make better use of human resources.
IDC White Paper: The Modern Mainframe – Automated, Protected, Connected
Download the IDC white paper The Modern Mainframe – Automated, Protected, Connected, which looks at secure application access, RPA benefits, and hurdles on host systems and provides an overview of some of the solutions to overcome these hurdles.
Be sure to view our on-demand webinar: Security and automation – keys for a modern host system.