How to speed up migration from mainframe to a platform of your choice

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Recent research revealed that 89% of CIOs advised that digital transformation has accelerated in the last 12 months, while 58% predicted it would continue to speed up. As a result, businesses of all sizes are challenged with adopting a think fast, build fast and learn fast mentality to accelerate digital innovation.

However, aging technology and growing technical debt are often responsible for preventing companies from innovating. For example, many larger enterprises are still running mainframe-based applications that are over 30 years old. In most cases, the engineers who wrote the original code left the company many years ago, and the essential skills needed to support legacy applications have been lost over time.

As a result, many organizations increasingly feel caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they must deliver better software faster to create unrivalled digital experiences, and on the other, they also feel locked into the old ecosystem. Thankfully, speeding up your migration from mainframe to modern environments is not as challenging as you might think.

One-piece at a time

The thought of moving all your software applications and data to a new infrastructure can be an incredibly daunting prospect. A common misconception is that migrating from the mainframe to a different architecture must be completed in one giant leap. Companies that were previously forced to do a big bang move because of perceived technical difficulties slowed down the migration process.

Ensuring systems keep running while migrating in one step to a new architecture often delivers more problems than solutions. But as Desmond Tutu once wisely said, “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Using the same philosophy, we believe that breaking migration into individual pieces is easier and faster when migrating to a new platform.

Many companies begin their transformational journey by migrating a strategic application to a modern infrastructure such as x86 or the cloud. They can then begin to selectively modernize, piece by piece, transforming parts of that application to new languages to support innovation initiatives or building agile test environments to speed up product development. This approach unlocks the ability to quickly add new functions and adapt in real-time to the continuously evolving market. 

Leading Italian bank modernizes, step by step

One example of an organization that has managed this is BPER Banca. The leading Italian bank set itself the goal of being able to react more swiftly to market demands. By moving select mainframe applications to a modern Linux environment, the company is now able to test different versions of applications extensively and in parallel. This approach speeds up its development process and means mainframe applications can be upgraded quickly to drive new product features. 

Further, the company could achieve this whilst data remained on the mainframe throughout migration, and could offload further applications over time, freeing up cost to further invest in testing initiatives.

Migration is not the end: achieve stepwise business transformation

If your business has an appetite for change and a desire to do things differently on a modern infrastructure, it doesn’t have to be the nightmare you might have conjured up in your head. But, equally, transforming a supportive function into a business enabler that drives the company forward and helps you meet the increasing expectations of your customers should not be a pipe dream.

 There will always be a place for mainframes. But in a digital world where every business is challenged to accelerate the pace of digital innovation, businesses need something that is hardware and software agnostic. Software has become the backbone of every company. It requires a modern infrastructure that is more flexible and agile when engineers want to change things. 

By moving mainframe assets to a modern infrastructure of their choice, businesses can finally free themselves from the mainframe architecture. Of course, business enablement is not a journey you should rush. But speeding up your migration can be achieved one goal and application at a time.