Determining how to address an aging mainframe with legacy applications and the adverse effects on cost, resources and performance isn’t easy. In other blog posts, we’ve covered why it’s not a good idea to ignore the problem, rip-and-replace, rewrite applications, or do a massive code conversion. Instead, rehosting is the most cost-effective and least time-consuming solution.
Even a commitment to rehosting can run into roadblocks in the court of executive and IT opinion, however. The fact that a mainframe is a monolith can inspire monolithic debates about rehosting, such as “Our entire mainframe must migrate to the cloud.” This is at once followed by, “No, that will take too long; let’s just customize what we’ve got.” This goes nowhere fast as both sides get into an argument. Unfortunately, in most of these cases, the legacy baby is thrown out with the monolithic bath water, and the mainframe creaks along without resolution.
The good news is that there are three types of rehosting mainframe solutions that can meet your needs and budget. And, the rehosting process doesn’t have to be a big bang, either. Let’s explore the options.
The most comprehensive method of rehosting is replacement. For some enterprises, the migration is to the cloud. However, for enterprises that, for reasons of confidential, personal data or regulations and audits, can’t go to the cloud, there is the option to move the legacy mainframe applications from their current environment to an open Linux or UNIX environment in a data center or a private cloud.
How does this example of flexible mainframe solutions work? It’s simple. Mainframe programs—legacy code and all—are recompiled in a new rehosting environment without changes to the business logic. After that, if you decide that no confidential or sensitive information will be harmed in the process there’s a migration of the mainframe data into a new, more modern database environment.
This rehosting process starts with a source code analysis that, in many cases, surfaces new opportunities for saving costs and improving performance before anything is even moved. Code is then “lifted and shifted” to a distributed environment either on premises or in the cloud with advanced automated migration tools. No rewriting is required. Your business logic, data and code now run in a modern architecture with agility, reliability and scalability.
On the other end of the flexible mainframe solution spectrum is reducing MIPs. MIPS is a measurement of CPU resource consumption, and one unit is equal to 1 million instructions per second. The average organization uses thousands of MIPs. That figure rises by double digits every year. All this processing takes a toll on performance.
Reducing MIPS is a process of identifying the high-consumption workloads in mainframe environments and offloading them onto less costly open systems or the cloud, while maintaining the original business logic. The outcome is a functionally equivalent operating environment that decreases total cost of ownership and adds flexibility to your infrastructure and underlying software. Your mainframe can now function better in today’s modernized IT world. For example, a global insurer moved 4,000 batch programs and 3,000 online programs from its mainframe to a UNIX server and saw a substantial improvement in performance.
Another flexible mainframe solution that fits nicely between replacement and MIPS is re-platforming, which migrates legacy apps to a new open platform or the cloud. “Legacy” refers to applications and software that have been around for many years, and their original owners and operating details might not be known. Because they rely on outdated infrastructure, databases or operating systems, they can negatively impact the overall performance of your mainframe.
The re-platforming approach is straightforward. Automated tools convert the applications, and the data structures are mirrored onto a UNIX-based, x86, or a cloud platform. This flexible mainframe solution compiles the programs, translates the sequential files, and installs and configures a new environment. Re-platforming frees your mainframe from the burden of running these apps, and they get a new lease on life.
Rehosting can be a worrisome proposition for executives and IT teams alike. However, with flexible mainframe solutions, there’s no reason to rehost all at once. A natural progression, for example, is to start by reducing MIPS, move to re-platforming, and finally end up with replacing. In this staged, progressive approach, data and source code are cleaned, the open system (on-premises or cloud) is prepared, and one mainframe application and data set are chosen for a first conversion as a test. After identifying any system anomalies, remaining systems and databases are brought over in phases until all the migration is done.
After the migration, the old system is not turned off right away. Instead, use of the new system and databases is staged by departments or functions. This is to ensure that everything is operating to expectations. During this time, data is synchronized between the old and new systems. This is not real time synchronization. Mainframe files and database changes are updated daily. When everything is performing to expectations, then you switch over to the new systems and databases, and the replacement is complete.
If you’re ready to drain the monolithic solution bathwater and keep your legacy baby, TmaxSoft OpenFrame enables you to do it your way, cost-effectively and in much less time than expected. From MIPS reduction to a replacement, we have a mainframe solution that fits your enterprise. For more information, visit tmaxsoft.com/products/openframe/.
Kelly McClure is the Vice President of Global Marketing for TmaxSoft. Her 20-year marketing career spans both Fortune 1000 companies and fast growth technology startups. Kelly is responsible for leading TmaxSoft’s marketing strategy. She is experienced in aligning marketing and sales, building relevant content and messaging and developing integrated lead generation campaigns. Before joining TmaxSoft, Kelly served as the Vice President of Marketing for 10th Magnitude and held senior marketing roles with DataStax, BMC Software and Micro Focus. Kelly has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.