Have you heard about the mainframe resurgence? Despite years of skepticism and fretting about the impending death of mainframes, the industry is seeing a widespread resurgence in mainframe adoption this year. In fact, some are even calling it a “mainframe renaissance,” with IBM reporting increased Z series mainframe sales.

According to a recent Forrester report, “Tackling the Unsexy Challenge of Mainframe Modernization,” 56 percent of infrastructure technology decision makers at North American enterprises say they rely on mainframes, and 46 percent actually plan to increase their mainframe use over the next two years.

As the mainframe becomes more and more entrenched in companies’ IT strategies, especially in industries like finance, government, and retail, those companies are faced with the dilemma of whether it’s time to do anything differently in their mainframe environment. Mainframe management isn’t exactly easy, and it’s not cheap, especially as the skills gap widens.

In this environment, the idea of mainframe modernization is growing in importance. Modernization can help companies bring their mainframes into the modern era, with modern applications and development tools.

But, modernization isn’t just about changing technology. It’s also about updating IT processes of all kinds. Modernization can be an expensive endeavor, from dealing with new cloud services and platforms to rearchitecting applications and integration. But, trying to avoid the problem by getting off mainframes isn’t cheap either, with some organizations spending upwards of $100 million to migrate off.

The companies that are having the most success with mainframe modernization today are baking it into other IT and development processes their team already know. Think about the process of building a new application. Those applications, built with modern development toolsets, require a connection to existing mainframe systems. As a result, mainframe developers need to be integrated into current DevOps processes.

For example, an IT director at a large company approached modernization by having his team apply common DevOps processes – like automated testing and quality assurance (QA) – to their mainframes. That process change allowed the team to keep their strategic IP on the mainframe, while everything else got replaced with SaaS. That’s one way to modernize the mainframe environment.

While companies are thinking about modernizing IT processes around mainframes, another process area to consider is mainframe security. Mainframe security testing should be part of regular security and risk management processes. Companies should start to include tasks like security monitoring and vulnerability scanning in the routines of their IT security and pen testing teams. Integrating scanning and testing into regular mainframe security processes can help companies secure their most important IT asset, as they bring it up to modern standards.

Learn more about mainframe vulnerability scanning and compliance testing using the z/Assure software from Key Resources, Inc. For more information about mainframe modernization strategies, read the KRI paper.