Taking the credit: What happens when a leading retail brand rehosts its mainframe in the cloud - TmaxSoft
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Taking the credit: What happens when a leading retail brand rehosts its mainframe in the cloud

Imagine being the managed application and network services affiliate of one of the most diverse retail brands in the U.S. That’s the role of SC Data Center, Inc. SC Data Center, Inc. is an affiliate of Colony Brands, which is best known for its direct mail catalogs, such as The Swiss Colony, Montgomery Ward, and Seventh Avenue. Through its wide-reaching catalog business, the company sells apparel, shoes, home décor and furnishings, outdoor gear, health and beauty, electronics, toys, and food and gifts. As part of its online and catalog business, the company offers instant and other credit options to customers.

So, what happens when the customers of a venerable brand that does 94% of its sales via online and direct mail become more tech and mobile savvy? In the case of SC Data Center, Inc., they look to the cloud and mainframe rehosting. This is the story of their success.

The cloud on the horizon

SC Data Center, Inc. had six core business systems (700 MIPS) housed on an IBM mainframe, which had been great in the heyday of ordering by phone and online via P.C. But increased demand for better performance from customers using smartphones and tablets was a wake-up call for SC Data Center, Inc. The mainframe and its legacy applications were keeping Colony Brands from addressing customer needs and demands—and from being nimble and responsive to market changes. It was time to consider other options.

SC Data Center, Inc. had big plans. The affiliate and its parent wanted to be able to offer innovative credit and purchasing solutions, for example. They knew that the best platform and infrastructure for that was the cloud. In fact, it was a no-brainer. But how far did they want to go on the cloud? Should it just be a place where modernized versions of their legacy applications could live while the data remained on the mainframe?

Many think that modernizing and rewriting apps for the cloud is a cost-effective move. It looks good on paper and in spreadsheets. However, rewriting applications is a risky business. According to Standish Group and Gartner, more than 70 percent of legacy application rewrites are not successful. Rewrites require someone to interpret existing application logic based on business processes properly and then rewrite them in a new code base. Someone must also translate databases and data. SC Data Center, Inc. considered all that and decided that rewriting was not the way forward. So, the company chose to take a different path, one that would eventually mean moving everything to the cloud.

Taking the mainframe rehosting plunge

After weighing the options, SC Data Center, Inc. decided that rehosting their mainframe in the cloud was the best choice. By rehosting, they could eliminate high mainframe and infrastructure costs and move legacy apps to the cloud without a major rewrite.

Maintaining and updating a mainframe is expensive. Numerous industry analysts agree that large organizations spend millions of dollars each year on maintenance and in new mainframe technology with little ROI. SC Data Center, Inc. really didn’t want that kind of overhead. It’s an innovation killer. Plus, the migration of their apps would set them up to create new apps and re-architect old ones in the new cloud environment for the future. Rehosting the mainframe would also deliver the reliability and availability that was critical for all the transaction processing, especially the real-time credit approvals.

With their plans set, SC Data Center, Inc. got busy. They moved all the Colony Brands and other legacy applications to the cloud. The process involved interpreting thousands of COBOL applications and hundreds of mainframe assembler programs. They migrated more than 850 middleware and on-premises transactions and over 5000 batch processes. In addition, a key manufacturing suite was able to run flawlessly in production.

The results are in and the cloud future is bright

Now that SC Data Center, Inc. has rehosted its legacy applications, its reliance on the mainframe has been dramatically reduced, as have costs. The company now has the agility and efficiency needed to innovate, control costs, and improve application performance. In fact, after the rehosting, the company’s developers were able to build a fully integrated automation solution to streamline customer data management in just days—a timeline that was unheard of before the move to the cloud.

Performance for the online, real-time systems and the web service transactions, along with all business operations, has met all expectations. High availability and reliability ensure that an interruption in the cloud does not affect online processing.

Want all the details?

“The operational cost improvements realized with TmaxSoft OpenFrame and the AWS cloud platform are remarkable. Our legacy environment now scales dynamically and economically,” says Steve Cretney, VP/CITO, SC Data Center, Inc. To get all the details of SC Data Center, Inc.’s remarkable cloud journey with TMaxSoft, check out the full case study.

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.