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The role of systems integration partners

Diary of a mainframe rehoster volume 3

Companies seeking to migrate away from any legacy platform are faced with challenges in two key areas:

  • Application and artefact knowledge – what do their applications do, is source code available, and what are the interconnections?
  • Migration process – who will manage the complex process of determining project resource allocation, who within the internal team will manage it, and do they have experience of such a process?

As a software provider, our goal is to develop technology that makes this process as smooth as is technically possible for our clients. However, in our experience, the success of any migration is equally dependent on project execution excellence. For this reason, for many of our customers, the role of a systems integration (SI) partner is crucial.

Extension of an in-house IT team

Systems integration partners are typically an extension of an in-house IT team, experts who provide migration knowledge, planning and even trained migration resources to guide companies through such projects. In my role as SVP of alliances at LzLabs, I work closely with SI partners to enable exceptionally smooth migrations for our customers. In this article, we will describe why SI partners are well-suited to help you navigate your company through a successful mainframe migration project.

If you’re considering migration of legacy applications to modern environments, the value of an SI partner can be summarised as follows:

  1. A selected SI partner may know your technology landscape as well as you do.
  2. An SI partner will already be aligned with a technology vendor such as ourselves to build and manage concise migration plans and models based on client target platform and desired end results.
  3. A pool of experts can be allocated to your project, spanning multiple areas (e.g. mainframe/Linux/cloud) to supplement and support your own in-house expertise.
  4. An SI brings extensive knowledge of previous, similar projects, and understands potential hurdles, team structuring and areas for efficiency gain.
  5. An SI can oversee the entire project making sure multiple vendors, suppliers, products and your internal teams are managed in a structured manner, reducing operational risk and enabling your staff to concentrate on day-to-day responsibilities

Wide range of services required

A mainframe migration requires a wider range of services than a customer might typically expect. In addition to technical know-how, quality of planning and delivery is crucial. Personnel management is also key given the inevitable cultural shift taking place across many organizations, from mainframe to cloud.

SI partners can assist by offering a range of migration-specific services:

  1. Expert counsel to all levels of management, including guidance, advice, project management and communication.
  2. Technical “execution” services, with SI teams working hand in hand with LzLabs Subject Matter Experts and your team to manage incremental migration and ensure service continuity.
  3. Ongoing application modernization and data utilization, after initial migration.
  4. Potential management of the new environment, and associated technologies, once in full production.

Successful production environment

At LzLabs, we’re used to integrating tightly with SI teams to drive project progress together with the customer. As an example, we are currently working with a major pharmaceutical company on a migration to LzLabs Software Defined Mainframe® (LzSDM®), hand in hand with the customer’s chosen SI partner. The SI has adopted the role of prime contractor, thus providing a single interface across multiple strands of the migration project. This single interface provides our customer with focused ownership and accountability, with the benefit of “single track” communication.

The teams (the customer, LzLabs, SI and other third parties) work together via structured project plans and governance meetings, resulting in a tight programme of work designed to provide clarity to all contributors. The end result of this is a successful production environment and ultimately, a satisfied customer.

In other engagements LzLabs may lead the project, pulling in expertise and resources from an SI partner, as required. In both scenarios a structured responsibility assignment matrix (RACI) model is used to make sure all roles are understood and accountability for each task is agreed by all parties.

LzLabs has a proven approach to LzSDM project success. Our partners are an integral part of this process, from initial Discovery– LzDiscover – through to implementation (LzEnable) and eventual full production and further modernization on LzLabs Software Defined Mainframe®. 

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