At AWS re:Invent 2018, I got a taste of all kinds of innovative technology. For example, AWS Ground Station, a form of satellite services on-demand, can retrieve data from satellites, process it, and make it available for developers to use in applications. Think IoT in space. Also generating a lot of buzz was RoboMaker, a new managed service that enables developers to build intelligent robotics. The Jetsons never had it so good.
Amazon, Walmart, Comcast, Google, eBay, AirBNB, and Uber: they’re crushing it in terms of innovation. They and about 20 other companies have cornered the market in bringing the latest and greatest ideas to fruition. Is this because they’ve snapped up the world’s brain trust and there’s nothing left? Absolutely not. They’ve either shed themselves of a crippling, monolithic architecture or they never had one in the first place.
Sadly, most enterprises are still tied to legacy systems on what is probably a decades-old mainframe. And that’s killing their opportunities to innovate. Sound familiar? Let’s explore why and how that can—and should—change.
Today, just about anyone using an application expects a rapid, personalized experience similar to that of their mobile devices. Microservices, which are behind some of the biggest innovations in IT, are key to meeting this expectation. These reusable modules of code are built and deployed as independent entities, are organized based on business capabilities, and own their domain logic. Their governance and data management are decentralized.
How do they work? Instead of a rigid, monolithic infrastructure, an organization’s ecosystem or architecture is a large collection of applications and services, some built in-house and some available from third parties such as open-source forums or SaaS vendors. Each of these services can integrate with others using APIs, and applications can compose them into a user interface with multiple touchpoints.
Microservices enable the Uber app to do currency rate exchanges in real time. They make it easy for SoundCloud users to message each other when in their platform. And, they ensure that Spotify delivers music to 75 million active users per month, with an average session length of 23 minutes.
This has immense benefits in terms of agility, speed, and personalization. Serving up brilliant digital experiences while applying novel approaches to solving user problems is faster. Applications can adapt quickly to market changes and consumer expectations. Users feel that their apps “know” them. So, why aren’t more companies putting them to work?
Because legacy systems, monolithic infrastructure, and aging mainframes are holding IT back.
Today, mainframes and monolithic architectures are core to the running of 60 percent of the world’s enterprises. In fact, 90 percent of the Fortune 500’s core systems are on mainframes. But because they’ve been around for 40-50 years, mainframes are beginning to suffer from age.
Just as younger and more agile athletes are taking the place of their aging counterparts on the courts or on the field, newer and more agile approaches to delivering business value and innovation are replacing big suites of business software and millions of lines of handcrafted code. As enterprises look for ways to meet the demands of consumers, users, and customers for fast, innovative ways to communicate, complete transactions, and get things done, they are held back by mainframes and legacy infrastructure.
Not only are the costs of maintaining these legacy systems high, but their proprietary architecture and infrastructure are not designed for handling microservices, nor are they ideal for harnessing big data, IoT, streaming, artificial intelligence and voice recognition. At the same time, hundreds of apps, millions of lines of code, incalculable amounts of valuable and big data reside on your mainframe, and you need all that to keep your business running.
Put more bluntly, although they are the sources of mission-critical business applications, aging mainframes and their legacy systems are hampering IT’s ability to innovate and bring new value to the business. Maintaining older systems means using mostly finite budget and resources on solutions designed for yesterday’s business environment, not today’s or tomorrow’s. Plans for new applications or innovative solutions to business problems are set aside so IT can keep the legacy lights on. According to numerous articles and surveys on the subject, IT organizations can spend up to 90 percent of their budgets maintaining mainframes and their software. That leaves precious little time, resources and money to do anything else.
So, what’s to be done? It’s obvious that you can’t just rip out your mainframe because that could do great harm to your business. At the same time, microservices and cloud-based solutions are where innovation lies, and you need to step up those games to stay in business or disrupt your market. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Although some of the biggest innovators in the world have left their monoliths behind, they didn’t do it in one fell swoop. For example, a retailer reconfigured their architecture over time as part of migrating their mainframe so they could take advantage of microservices and the cloud. Although there are many ways to migrate applications off the mainframe to the cloud, the fastest, least risky, and most cost-effective solution is rehosting.
When you rehost, your applications are moved to a cloud-based environment, but there is no reformatting, code changes or user impact. Plus, a source code analysis before any migration takes place uncovers new opportunities for saving costs and improving performance. As much as 60 percent of the application code on your mainframe has never been executed, and if you eliminate that, you can see improved performance after rehosting. In addition, companies that have rehosted have seen more than a 50% reduction in operating costs with no noticeable changes to the applications or their performance.
After the move, your business logic, data and code run in a modern architecture, making your organization more agile and competitive and providing a platform for future growth. For example, HealthPlan Services says that after they finish their migration, their applications will be easier to optimize or re-architect because they will already be running in the cloud. The most difficult part of any modernization process is physically migrating the application, data and traffic, and rehosting takes care of all of that.
The end result is the agility, reliability and scalability associated with an open, modern system and cost savings you can apply toward innovation, instead of legacy system maintenance. Your developers can use existing skills and apply new ones in a much more productive environment that enables them to fulfill modern business and user requirements that deliver the biggest benefits. In addition, it is easier to deliver new or improved business services by transitioning mainframe transactions into web services that can be reused and turning complex screens into intuitive UIs.
Don’t let your legacy applications and mainframe keep you from the innovation you know will give you competitive advantage. Rehost them with OpenFrame and immediately and significantly reduce your costs so you can focus on today and tomorrow instead of yesterday. Learn more about OpenFrame rehosting by downloading our new eBook, Lift, shift and modernize: proven mainframe modernization strategies that enable digital transformation.
Joshua Yulish is the Global CEO and President for TmaxSoft. He has over 20 years of experience in software and technology, and he has led the company’s expansion into global markets and is focused on transforming TmaxSoft into a tier-1 software developer. Joshua joined TmaxSoft in 2015 from Hewlett-Packard (HP) where he was a vice president leading business development. He received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.