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The State of Mainframe Migration: Diving into the Forrester Report
As workloads expand and applications evolve, enterprises across the globe are migrating to new environments that can host their data – but experts agree: It’s no easy feat.
by John Yun, Global Chief Technology Officer
A Forrester report from January 2018, “The State Of Cloud Migration, Portability, And Interoperability, Q4 2017,” by Lauren E. Nelson and Charles Betz, grades the maturation of various approaches to assess available tools, ease of completion, and the reality of solving these problems for enterprise cloud adoptions. Migration gets a solid “B” grade, indicating some adoption as well as a largely manual or resource-intensive process.
As Nelson and Betz point out, “Migration isn’t easy. Technology managers target specific application characteristics that are favorable to cloud while also leveraging a combination of lift-and-shift and redesign characteristics.” Cloud migration shifts the burden of high availability and performance from infrastructure to the application. Apps not built for the cloud often suffer from performance issues due to their monolithic architecture, which is unfit for horizontal scaling. Partial or full redesign is usually necessary, but it’s labor-intensive and time consuming.
While the Forrester report’s discussion of the lift-and-shift approach to migration offers a good overarching view, it’s important to break it down into more detail.
- Lifting and shifting “is the minimalist approach to moving applications.” This is accurate; this approach is low risk, with no change to any application business logic or environmental JCL coding, or to end-user experience. It’s also fast to deploy – no long, drawn-out process.
- “It’s often limited to packaged, noncritical, end-of-life, or largely cloud-ready applications.” Lift and shift is not limited to these applications, although they are where the approach makes the most sense. Especially for applications at the end of their useful life, lift-and-shift can be used to bail enterprises out of falling catastrophically behind in cost or technology.
- “Shifting a full portfolio isn’t common.” It may not be common, but that is due more to an education gap than because lift-and-shift isn’t appropriate for a full portfolio. Lift and shift allows an enterprise to take the whole mainframe and shift it over to the cloud. This is a major convenience, because an enterprise can just grab the whole system in one go and seat it in the cloud. Business operations thus incur minimal interruption because the whole mainframe comes over as one piece and nothing needs to be re-assembled.
- “ .. a short-term fix that ultimately results in performance issues, poorly used cloud scalability, and failure to tie into the economic model of public cloud.” Lifting and shifting can actually help boost performance, as it helps remove old code and reduces the size of the code base. In addition to a performance boost, removing obsolete code makes it easier for engineers moving forward, because they spend less time reverse engineering the code, figuring out what each line of code actually does and what they need to rewrite.
It’s also not necessarily a short-term fix. It’s a way to stabilize an out-of-date business that allows it to grow into a more cloud-centric model, and also an ideal application for some clients who are already running a cloud-ready architecture. However, it can be a short-term fix if an enterprise chooses, because it can act as a beneficial first step to a less complicated – and therefore less risky – source code rewrite.
Mainframe has been and is currently seen as a strategic initiative – yet the lift-and-shift method has not been utilized as much because many enterprises are unaware of the types of solutions out there. Yet they exist – and TmaxSoft’s OpenFrame offers a complete mainframe rehosting solution that lets enterprises take (lift) existing mainframe assets and move (shift) them to the public or private cloud, quickly and with minimal risk. This helps a business save on costly mainframe contracts and more effectively leverage critical data, while gaining a more flexible and transparent environment.
Additionally, while the report refers to rehosting within the context of cloud – and that certainly is a popular option – it’s important to note rehosting can also be done on-premise, from a mainframe to a captive datacenter. With OpenFrame, it doesn’t matter whether it’s cloud or on-premise—it’s destination agnostic.
About John Yun
As TmaxSoft’s Global Chief Technology Officer, John Yun is responsible for developing and executing the company’s product management, technology acumen and innovation while collaborating with TmaxSoft’s founder, Dr. Daeyeon Park, in driving the future product vision. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 20 years and is a seasoned executive with a rich set of technical competencies. He has honed his skills in such leading areas as Augmented and Virtual Reality to various cloud services. John received his bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics with Computer Science from the University of California, Berkley, and holds a master’s in Business Administration and Project Management from Boston University.