Now more than ever, organizations around the world are looking to extend their existing mainframe investments as part of larger digital transformation initiatives. As core systems of record and reliability, mainframes continue to run many organizations’ most important applications and the idea of replacing these systems comes with greater risk than reward. While organizations are considering modernization of their mainframe investments, it’s important to remember that maintaining mainframe access and offering new ways for their users to work with the data and systems is a vital part of the larger project.
Leveraging the Cloud for Mainframe Access
With the recent increase in remote work, it’s no surprise that more companies are looking to leverage the cloud for mainframe access. This has many benefits from increasing scalability, availability and performance, to reducing application costs and improving security. Implementing modern mainframe access as part of a larger cloud project ensures that an organization’s modernization journey is not only transformational but also secure.
If making the decision to leverage the private or public cloud for mainframe access, the integration of a secure host access solution ensures teams have access to the systems and applications needed to do their jobs, wherever they may be located. Deploying this secure access in a cloud environment is made easier by host access administration being integrated and centralized with the corporate user directory. Along with simplifying provisioning and management, centrally managed host access is, most importantly, more secure than other forms of access.
The extension of enterprise security to the mainframe is sometimes overlooked in a transformation, but it is an integral part of the larger process of strengthening data and system security. In a perfect world, this can best be done through the integration of a host access solution with the existing identity and access management (IAM) system. If this is possible, the authentication credentials that are already in use for authorizing or denying access to the mainframe can be leveraged successfully.
There are numerous benefits to an IAM integration with regard to access, data, stronger passwords, application security settings and system configurations. With IAM, the benefit of least privilege access means that users can access only the mainframe systems and data that are needed to do their jobs. Additionally, application security settings and session configurations can be changed from a central point by using the user directory. Finally, the stronger credential requirements of the IAM integration get rid of weaker eight-character passwords, strengthening security as a whole.
Host Access Improves User Experience
When it comes to host access, having a secure and centralized solution not only improves the mainframe access experience for the user, but also for the administrator. With zero-footprint secure access, users can be moved to a more secure web with higher security standards if needed. Security is also stronger with enterprise credentials that leverage mainframe session authorization to automatically sign them in. The integration of a host access solution gives administrators the ability to quickly deploy secure browser-based sessions, as well as providing web interfaces with no Java required, eliminating workstation dependencies as a result. This is also paired with the use of containers to enable deployment to countless users and support for mobile devices. For these reasons, a host access solution should be a common component in any cloud journey.
The mainframe and its data, applications and user access remain vital for organizations and it is important that they remain protected and connected. With security being an ever-evolving issue, keeping these core systems secure while ensuring employees are able to access the systems and data they need should always be a priority. In conclusion, organizations looking to leverage the public or private cloud for their mainframe will have more success if they also strengthen their data and system security as part of the process.