Former IBM infra wing Kyndryl links with Microsoft to pipe mainframe data to cloud

Isn't it ironic: Potentially helping its former customers to ditch big iron

Microsoft and Kyndryl have unveiled a new aspect of their global strategic partnership with plans to help enterprise customers make better use of data held on mainframe systems.

According to Kyndryl, the services outfit has worked with Microsoft in order to enable data pipelines between mainframe systems (including Kyndryl's zCloud platform) and Microsoft's Azure cloud, intended to make it easier for customers to move data stored on their mainframes to a cloud environment for analysis.

Kyndryl is the former IT infrastructure services division of IBM, which Big Blue spun out last year, and so it would be ironic if it were now helping IBM customers to ditch the mainframe – though the reality is more complicated than that, of course.

The zCloud platform is Kyndryl's managed multi-tenant mainframe cloud service.

Microsoft and Kyndryl announced the formation of their trade relationship within days of the Kyndryl spinoff being finalized last year. However, the company now has agreements with all three of the big cloud providers.

The purpose of this new arrangement is for Kyndryl to help enterprise clients squeeze more value from their mainframe data by connecting it with the Microsoft Power Platform, various cloud-based tools that Redmond offers which combine low-code application development and workflow automation with existing services such as Power BI.

In a short video, Kyndryl's VP and CTO for zCloud Richard Baird discloses how the company has linked its zCloud platform and Microsoft Azure. It involves deploying an Azure Stack HCI environment alongside a mainframe in one of Kyndryl’s zCloud Centers, or a customer’s own datacenter, then using that as the integration point between the mainframe and the Microsoft Power Platform.

Integrating cloud-based functionality with the mainframe not only preserves the value of existing enterprise IT investments, but enhances them to enable faster digital transformation, Kyndryl claimed, which hints that it doesn't quite see the mainframe going away just yet.

Instead, Kyndryl talked up the creation of a hybrid environment that makes mainframe data available via Azure and opens it up to the benefits of cloud-based applications, machine learning and AI. What this means is that - in theory - mainframe customers can choose the right platform for the right workload, it said.

"Microsoft's AI-enabled Power Platform capabilities, Kyndryl's rich mainframe ecosystem, and managed services experience are a strong combination that will help customers unlock their mainframe data," said Microsoft's VP for Global System Integrator and Advisory Partners, Kelly Rogan.

Kyndryl and Microsoft said they also plan to combine mainframe data with other internal and external cloud-based data sources, in order to let customers create new applications that make use of modern analytics and visualization tools.

As part of the joint mainframe modernization initiative, Kyndryl said it will offer consulting and integration services to help customers more easily and efficiently plan, design, and connect mainframe data to Azure Cloud and Edge Computing environments. ®

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