Mainframe Rehosting via an Optimal Solution

To reduce costs and improve business agility, many enterprises are migrating from the mainframe to the open system using mainframe rehosting solutions. But not all mainframe rehosting solutions are made equal. For successful mainframe rehosting, it is of vital importance to choose an optimal rehosting solution.

ONE- Huge Reduction in TCO

Rehosting via an optimal solution allows enterprises to reduce total cost of ownership as much as by 66%, and achieve positive ROI in as little as 12 months. This is made possible via built-in modules, which reduce migration time, thereby reducing labor costs. Another reason is that customers are now no longer locked-in to mainframe applications, which means much lower license costs.

TWO- Preservation of Business Logic.

With an optimal solution, you can simply lift and shift business logic from the mainframe to the open system. This is made possible with built-in tools that allow mainframe resources such as JCL and COBOL to be migrated to the open system without any modification. The result is an open system that runs exactly as the way it ran before, eliminating all risks associated with migrating away from the mainframe.

THREE- Automatic Storage Migration to RDB

An optimal solution provides built-in tools that automatically converts mainframe datasets into a table structure, allowing direct migration to RDBMS. This allows customers to upgrade their flat file database to a relational database of their choosing such as Oracle, SQL Server, and Tibero.

FOUR- Full Package

One of the major problems with many rehosting solutions is that they do not provide built-in compilers and utilities. An optimal solution comes with a bevy of compilers and utilities, saving you money.

Three Options for Modernization

As mentioned in previous posts, modernizing mainframes is a necessity, not an option. So now the question is, how should you embark on modernization?

Well, there are basically three choices: mainframe upgrading, source code rewriting, and mainframe rehosting. The below describes each of these three options.

Mainframe upgrading: This option is just kicking the can down the road. What you are basically doing is upgrading an outdated mainframe system to the newest version of the mainframe. You would get more capacity and performance, but you would also incur higher licensing costs. Most importantly however, the biggest problem of selecting this option is that you are resolving the single most important reason for modernization which is moving to an open system.

Source code rewriting: This option is basically a complete reconstruction of the existing system. Not only are you replacing hardware, but you are rewriting code from scratch. This poses two serious issues: loss of business logic, and instability of mission-critical services. Completely overhauling the existing source code means decades worth of valuable business logic which form the backbone of enterprises. As well, if you rewrite code from scratch, not only will it take many years to complete, there also is no guarantee of success. For companies that value seamless operation and keeping business logic, this option simply will not work for them. In fact, it would be better to just continuously upgrading their mainframe system.

Mainframe re-hosting: What is mainframe rehosting? It can be described as a “lift and shift” approach to modernization. You simply migrate your legacy applications and data to the open system made up of x86 servers, and then replace middleware, operating system, and database with their equivalents in the open environment. With this approach, you preserve your enterprise’s valuable business logic as well as keep on running your system as if it were running on the mainframe, all the while moving your system to the open environment thereby leveraging the newly found ability to easily integrate the newest technologies. Furthermore, this approach greatly reduces total cost of ownership (TCO) as well as allowing you to complete modernization in a fraction of the time it would take to do the same via source code rewriting. Lastly, there is no risk to system stability as application and data remain unchanged. Basically, if your legacy system is rehosted, it allows you to enjoy most of the benefits of modernization, but with little cost and risk.

As you can see, for most enterprises, the best way to embark on legacy modernization is to re-host your legacy system which resides in the closed system to the open system.

Benefits of Mainframe Modernization

As described in the previous post, “The Need for Mainframe Modernization”, there are two key advantages of embarking on a mainframe modernization: technological efficiency, cost efficiency, and operational efficiency.

Technological Efficiency

Moving to the open environment greatly increases technological efficiency due to its ability to separate the tightly-coupled architecture of mainframes in which presentation logic, business logic, and data access logic are all rolled into the same system into a loosely-coupled 3-tier architecture. A loosely-coupled 3 tier architecture provides the following technological benefits.

-Ability to implement and integrate new functionalities as components in a loosely coupled system is less constrained to the same platform, language, operating system, or build environment, thus enabling you to keep moving forward, modifying/adding features, bugs fixing, etc.

-Ability to move the system up a generation, laying out the groundwork for moving into a next generation platform, such as a cloud-based platform. The great thing about moving to an open system is that the UI, DB, and OS have already been replaced, and the remaining task you need to do is replacing legacy applications with new applications.

-Ability to scale-out infinitely by increasing each bottleneck area such as UI, application, and data.

-Ability to prevent system failure by blocking task errors from escalating into system errors.

Cost Efficiency

Moving to the open environment greatly reduces TCO (total cost of ownership) due to the following factors.

-Ability to free an enterprise from vendor lock-in, in a market long dominated by a single vendor. This means that the monopolistic vendor can charge customers with outrageous licensing fees for mainframe-specific software.

-Ability to greatly reduce cost when performing system upgrades as x86 servers (used in open systems) are far cheaper than mainframes.

-Ability to spend far less in electricity bills as x86 servers have far less power and cooling requirements.

-Cheaper procurement of engineers due to the abundant supply of server engineers compared to mainframe engineers.

The Need for Mainframe Modernization

The previous post discussed the topic, “what is mainframe modernization?”. This post will describe the concept of mainframe modernization in detail.

The mainframe is basically a giant monolith, left in the dust by newer technology. While new kids on the block such as Google and Facebook are playing around with new technologies, older, more established companies are stuck with the technology of the 1970s.

As a result, they are falling behind new firms in competitiveness, hindering their business agility and growth. However, you can’t just throw away the whole thing. Decades of data and applications exist in mainframes. Data and applications that are mission-critical to a firm.

While newer firms do not have such problem because they never had to use mainframes to even begin with. But older companies have a big task at hand, they need to adopt new technologies, but they simply do not have the option to overhaul their entire system, or at least not without disruption to mission-critical services.

If you look at the stats, in the United States alone, federal agencies spend 70% of IT budget in legacy system maintenance, and over $50bn is spent on maintaining legacy systems, which could have been used for adopting new IT capabilities. As well, over 70% of world’s data still reside in mainframes, containing over 200 billions of lines of COBOL code. So what does this mean? Mainframe and COBOL still dominate the world, even now, at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This is the grim reality of older firms, losing more and more competitiveness every day to newer firms; unable to replace decades worth of data and applications worth millions perhaps even billions of dollars, hindering their growths, and their ability to invest and use new technologies. The longer they wait to modernize, the further they are gonna be left behind.

However, despite all the reasons to modernize, most enterprises are hesitant in modernizing their mission-critical systems. So why is this the case? This is because of the following reasons:

-Too time intensive (may take years to complete)

-Too cost intensive (costs can easily outweigh benefits)

-Cause disruption in service (cannot afford disruption to mission-critical systems)

-Too risky (you spend all that time and money, and it may not even succeed!)

You can see why companies are willing to just maintain the status quo. However, having a “don’t fix what’s not broken” approach will not work. Why? Because modernization gives organizations the following key advantages:

1.Technological efficiency

2.Cost efficiency

Companies have to improve these two critical areas, or simply fall behind in the competition.

The next post, “Benefits of Mainframe Modernization” describes each of these advantages in detail.

Mainframe Modernization in a Nutshell

What is mainframe modernization? This is the question that will be answered in this post.

Ever since the mainframe was born in 1964, large-scale enterprises have invested heavily in the mainframe, nicknamed “The Big Iron”.

They were especially drawn to its ability to rapidly process large-batch jobs unmatched by commodity hardware.

However, with the advancement in technology, commodity hardware can now provide processing power similar to that of the mainframe. As well, unlike the monolithic mainframe, commodity hardware provides an open-system, which enterprises can leverage to gain higher agility, higher cost efficiency, the ability to run on the Cloud, and the ability to incorporate new technologies.

This has left the mainframe largely ignored by new enterprises. However, enterprises that have previously invested heavily are are still heavily dependent on the mainframe as it is extremely difficult to move mission-critical applications and decades worth of data to the open system.

This has resulted in a concept called mainframe modernization, to allow mainframe-dependent enterprises to catch up to their more agile counterparts using commodity hardware.