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Microsoft, Kyndryl deal connects Azure to IBM mainframe data

Aiming to break the mainframe out of its silo, Microsoft and Kyndryl will collaborate on allowing mainframe users to send data across multi-cloud environments.

Microsoft and Kyndryl are expanding their partnership with a deal that will make it easier for users to move their mainframe data to Azure and provide access to AI applications, web-based analytics and machine learning capabilities.

The deal calls for Kyndryl, a provider of multi-tenant zCloud for IBM z server workloads, to build data pipes that create secure connections between IBM mainframes and Azure. This gives companies access to significantly more developers, allowing them to create applications taking advantage of modern analytics and visualization tools, according to Microsoft and Kyndryl.

It also gives users a more holistic view of their data and allows them to leverage low code/no code applications using Microsoft's Power Platform, the companies said.

"There are a lot of valuable mission-critical workloads on the mainframe, but they have been siloed in many cases," said Petra Goude, leader of Kyndryl's Core Enterprise and zCloud practice. "This deal helps users by letting them utilize data across a hybrid environment."

The deal is a potential win for IBM because mainframes are integrally involved and a win for Microsoft because it gives the company a path into large IBM accounts, said Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects Inc.

"This is purely a business play on the part of each company because Kyndryl is essentially serving as a sales channel for Azure," he said.

By extension, the agreement also allows IBM to expand its multi-cloud strategy, focused on connecting its clouds with those of its competitors, including Azure and AWS.

"The vast majority of corporate accounts have multi-cloud environments made up of clouds from different vendors," Dzubeck said. "This deal plays very well into [IBM's] strategy."

Petra Goude, Kyndryl	Petra Goude

An advantage for IT pros, according to Goude, is that the partnership deal eliminates the need to be a COBOL programmer in order to reach out to a broader development community. This means users can build their business processes using mainframe data in a more flexible way.

"It speeds [application development] up not having to get the mainframe application development people involved," she said. "It also keeps the value of the platform in the platform so users don't have to worry about the risks involving regulatory requirements."

The data pipes Kyndryl is building run from mainframe applications to Microsoft's Power Platform and then on the low code/no code applications. From there, users can apply AI to those applications and connect them to other sources in the cloud, on-premises and various distributed environments.

As enterprises continue to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy, the mainframe has a key role to play.
Steven DickensSenior analyst, Futurum Research

Kyndryl will also provide a range of consulting and integration services that improve an organization's ability to plan, design and connect mainframe data to Azure as well as associated edge computing environments.

One analyst said he the deal is an important way to utilize the existing capabilities of mainframes within hybrid clouds.

"As enterprises continue to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy, the mainframe has a key role to play," said Steven Dickens, a senior analyst at Futurum Research.

The combination of Microsoft, Kyndryl and IBM provides new ways for mainframe users to drive innovation, he said.

As Editor At Large for TechTarget Editorial, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals.

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