Halloween is coming, so it’s the perfect time to discuss the mainframe fear factor. It’s normal to be slightly fearful of your mainframe costs—a massive black box with rising costs to many. If yours has been around for two decades or so, then the computing equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster is on your premises. Because your mainframe is critical to your business, you might be afraid of what happens if part of it gives out or how much it is costing you to maintain it.
This blog looks at the mashup of applications installed on your mainframe, the frightening cost aspects of updating and maintaining it, and how it can chain your business to old-fashioned ways that don’t work like they used to. It then offers you a treat: a way out of being held hostage by older programs and slowing performance.
Because they have been around for decades, mainframes are monster mashes of patches, complicated architectures, and software that is outdated and even sunset. Fueled by an estimated 220 billion lines of active COBOL code, mainframes and their applications have been described as tangled up jewelry, spaghetti connections, and holes that get deeper each year. One U.S. university’s mainframe, for example, is 43 years old, and because it is no longer supported by its vendor, the university repairs it with parts ordered from eBay.
The university mainframe is an extreme example. However, many mainframes do bind organizations to aging and legacy applications specifically designed for them. Maintaining and upgrading these applications is difficult. Many have limited licensing (if it even exists anymore) or have reached end-of-life and need specialist knowledge to keep them online. The COBOL that runs them is also a ghost in the machine. Many COBOL programmers have retired, and today’s younger software developers and programmers have chosen to learn other, more modern languages.
Your mainframe is most likely a raft of complicated structures and systems that have often been customized and changed over time. Therefore, the ongoing maintenance, patches, and upgrade costs associated with maintaining this ecosystem can be staggering. In 2018, it was estimated that 40% of enterprise IT budgets are spent on running and maintaining a mainframe. The retail banking sector is the most reliant on mainframes, and in 2017, Financial News stated that a big retail bank can spend $300 million a year on updating the mainframe to meet regulatory requirements.
Retail bank or not, your mainframe expenditures can range from $3,000-$5,000 per MIPS per year (these are 2015 numbers, which are the most recent we found). So, if your mainframe MIPs numbers are in the 4,000 range, your costs will be anywhere from $12 million to $20 million. Talk about frightful!
Customers, partners, suppliers, and employees have expectations of applications that mainframes have difficulty meeting. No matter what they’re used for, most modern applications are based on the consumer apps that everyone with a smartphone or tablet uses. Many were developed by companies that have come of age in the last two decades, so they are built on more modern infrastructures.
These applications run on open systems and cloud architecture. As a result, they are fast and high performing. They enable an agility in business that can elude more mature enterprises with older systems and hardware. Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that your mainframe can easily integrate with today’s open-source and cloud applications or continuous integration processes. A new breed of customer experience is at the gate, but the most you can do is try a few tricks with patches or more MIPS, which simply rattle the chains that close you off from responsiveness.
Despite its challenges, there’s no need to put a stake in the heart of your mainframe by abandoning it for something else. TmaxSoft OpenFrame offers a cost-effective alternative to ripping and replacing called rehosting. Your existing mainframe assets are lifted and shifted to an open system or cloud platform, quickly and with minimal risk.
Your business logic isn’t changed, and your business saves on costly mainframe contracts. You can use your critical data more effectively, and you gain a more flexible and transparent environment. Compilers, databases, data sets, online processing, and batch systems work as-is. Although your end users will never know the difference, your organization will notice numerous positive changes.
You’ll have immediate access to data, instead of using old data that’s typically extracted at night. Your applications will work as fast or faster than they did on the mainframe. You’ll have a future-proof environment that can scale with your business and enable you to implement new business initiatives and strategies. You’ll have the flexibility to try new ways of using and integrating data to maintain and improve business performance.
If you’re nervous about rehosting or aren’t sure what it would entail for your organization, in the spirit of Halloween, we’re offering you a treat—a free rapid assessment of your mainframe. Part of the assessment is answering your questions about rehosting, such as:
You will receive a rapid assessment report as a result with little effort from you or your team. To take advantage of this offer, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul Bengtson is the Vice President of Sales for TmaxSoft. He has spent more than 20 years selling technology in segments as diverse as big data, analytics, ERP, cloud and SaaS. Paul joined TmaxSoft in 2016 from EFI where he was Sales Director for its ERP solutions. He also has held senior leadership positions with Radius Solutions, where he was VP of North American Sales, and with Misomex, Artwork Systems (now Esko) and Ace Hardware. Paul has a BS in MIS from the University of Iowa and an MBA in MIS from Benedictine University.