“What has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” This common proverb is just as applicable to IT as it is to all other aspects of life. Recent events and articles that highlight innovation in IT show that the latest crop of innovations are mainly improvements on what already exists—AI, cloud, IoT, infrastructure, data analytics, and more.
Today’s IT innovations might not be new, but just like the sun, they shine brightly enough to guide us on a journey of improving core parts of IT infrastructure: mainframes and legacy applications. Open systems, the cloud, microservices, and hybrid IT have converged to offer enterprises solutions to these IT issues many organizations have been dealing with for a decade or more.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the state of mainframes and legacy applications today and how both are acquiring new life in this era of disruption, agility and innovation.
Is your mainframe bogging you down? You’re not alone. A few years ago, it was estimated that 90 percent of enterprises with mainframes were having a difficult time delivering innovative applications as fast as they need to. In our experiences with our customers, we have found that this is still true today. Yet, many enterprises find it difficult to do more than maintain the status quo—running outdated processes and archaic tools that are too slow. By doing so, they are risking customer defection and even a decline in business and revenues.
These enterprises aren’t consciously trying to sabotage themselves; however, they are not in a position to shut down their mainframes and use a different infrastructure or environment to run their business. And your organization probably isn’t, either. After all, rather than declining in use, mainframes are as strong as ever as a source of powering the business of the world’s most successful companies. They are perceived as reliable, highly available, and secure. And in many cases, they house critical, confidential data and core business systems.
At the same time, the clock is not being kind to mainframes. Manual workload-management processes are decreasing the quality, speed, and efficiency of their tasks. In addition, Forrester says that since 2013, organizations that run mainframes have lost almost a quarter of their mainframe workforce, and haven’t been able to overcome those losses with new hires.
And the more that mainframe systems and applications are patched, fixed, customized, and changed, the greater the threat to processing speed and performance. Even worse are the costs. The estimated amounts that most enterprises spend on mainframe application maintenance are in the millions, and for some, the costs can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
For years, the alternative proposed for these issues was to rip mainframes out of their infrastructure to prepare for the “next best thing.” But what came next was dicey. A few organizations were able to “rip-and-replace” ERP systems successfully, but these projects took years, and the costs were high. In most cases, however, the suggested solutions for replacing the mainframe either left a lot to be desired in terms of processing, performance, and costs or they presented a major risk to confidential personal data.
So, here we are, in 2019, with the number of businesses using mainframes increasing rather than declining and on a disappointing path paved by good rip-and-replace intentions. Is it the end of the road? Not hardly. Major advances in the IT industry have changed the game, and companies now have the option of rehosting.
Mainframe rehosting lifts-and-shifts your mainframe assets to a cloud environment. Nothing is replaced. It takes legacy source code, recompiles the programs in a new environment without changes to the business logic, and then migrates the mainframe data into a new, more modern database environment.
You can reuse existing security profiles, online and batch configurations and definitions, and data set system management profiles. There’s no reformatting, code changes, or user impact. If you choose to lift-and-shift, you gain the agility, reliability and scalability of an open, modern system, and apply the cost savings toward innovation instead of legacy system maintenance.
After the move, business logic, data, and code run in a modern architecture, which increases organizational and business agility and provides a platform for future growth. IT resources can use their existing skills and apply new ones in a much more productive environment, fulfilling the expectations of modern business and users. But the best thing about rehosting is that, in as little as a year, your overall total cost of ownership can be reduced by 50% while your ROI increases.
Re-platforming legacy mainframe applications is another simple and cost-effective solution to the problems associated with the mainframe. It moves older, business-critical applications to a new open platform where it’s possible to take advantage of their unique functionality without trying to force them into newer, existing commercial products.
How does re-platforming work? It’s a straightforward process, using automated tools to move the applications, and the data structures are mirrored onto a UNIX-based, x86 or cloud platform. For this reason, the process has been dubbed “lift, tinker, and shift” by Stephen Orban of Amazon Web Services. The programs are then compiled, the sequential files are translated, and a new environment is installed and configured.
The ROI of this method is remarkable, with a reduction in run costs reported to be as high as 78% in the size of the application footprint by organizations that have gone this route. A global financial services company slashed 71 million lines of code to just 16 million lines. Mainframes are no longer running these apps, and the apps themselves get a new lease on life.
“New lease on life” brings us back to the beginning. Today, there’s no need to get rid of something as critical as your mainframe or the legacy apps it houses just because of age or costs. Shining a light on what is really important—reduced infrastructure costs or freeing your mainframe from the burden of running legacy applications—enables you to take advantage of new and modern technology while still making the most of the old.
With TmaxSoft OpenFrame, you can see the light. Learn more about 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.