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ASG Perspectives

Blog > January 2019 > How is Enterprise Data Center Management like “The Wrath of Kahn”?

How is Enterprise Data Center Management like “The Wrath of Kahn”?

For those of a certain age (and, yes, I’m looking in the mirror), there has never been anything cooler than Star Trek, The Original Series (TOS). Depending on your nature or mood at a given moment, you identified with Capt. Kirk, Spock or Dr. McCoy – inspiring leadership, dispassionate logic or profound emotion – the show spoke to everything. There is a reason why a short-lived series from 50 years ago, and the theatrical films it inspired, continues to endure.

One of the minor themes from the series became a linchpin to the story of what most agree is the best Star Trek film to date, “The Wrath of Kahn.”  Three-dimensional chess was introduced in the second episode of TOS and was material in episodes through the original run, into the original cast movies and on into the later series.

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Thinking three-dimensionally was a metaphor for challenging problems and testing the intellect, and became the crucial deciding factor of success in the second original cast film: Kahn, despite his advanced intellect, failed to think three-dimensionally when maneuvering to attack the Enterprise, and was ultimately defeated as a result.

Meeting with our customers, we’ve learned that enterprise data center managers and application development managers are facing three-dimensional challenges daily and must develop new strategies to address them.  IT executives now are hired and rewarded as much for their impact on primary enterprise value streams as for their technical expertise, and value streams migrate across multiple software development lifecycle environments before reaching production.  These environments may be deployed on differing on-premises/off-premises platforms.  Moreover, different lifecycle environments for a given value stream may occupy different platforms and may move from one to another at differing velocities.  The graphic below provides a representation of the challenge.

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It shows an architecture common to the insurance industry with value streams of policy sales, claims adjustment, billing and customer relationship management. Those value streams then have some of their lifecycle environments (e.g., Dev, Test/QA, Production) on a given platform – mainframe, for example. At the same time, other life cycle environments can be on a different platform – say, a cloud.

That may seem simple on the first reading, until the complexities of quality of delivery is considered.  A value stream enhancement that is developed in a local distributed environment may need to be promoted to a cloud-hosted QA environment before ultimately elevating to a managed-service-provider (MSP) hosted mainframe.  Note this is the simple case – enterprise customers I’ve worked with have had as many as eight different lifecycle environments that applications were required to progress through before finally being installed in Production. Ensuring that all the configuration required for each environment is orchestrated correctly and consistently is a significant challenge – maybe not Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru but close enough for most professionals.

Fortunately, a class of automated orchestrators has emerged to help enterprise professionals address this need.  These orchestrators have the capabilities to automate promotion of an application package from one environment to another, spanning multiple siloes of technology that the application and lifecycle environment require, managing the differences in environmental requirements during the process.  Adopting an orchestrator of this type greatly reduces the error and rework that can occur when attempting to manage the promotions manually.  Note, however, that when evaluating an orchestrator of this type, it is critical that it supports all the platforms relevant to your enterprise’s IT strategy, particularly when z/OS on the mainframe is part of it.

To learn more about how ASG-Zena fills the role of this type of enterprise application release orchestrator, please contact me or your ASG representative.