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Transformation Without Full Migration: Moving Forward With Mainframe Modernization
Friday, February 12, 2021

Companies increasingly look to their IT leaders to achieve a long list of infrastructure goals — from faster data processing to enhanced security and lower costs. While full cloud migration offers a path forward for certain fast-growing, collaboration-heavy companies, for those that prioritize security and processing power the answer is much simpler: mainframe modernization.

Mainframe modernization covers a wide-range of services that share the end goal of using modern capabilities to build a hybrid ecosystem. Utilizing modern platform capabilities in conjunction with modern application code and data constructs, this process allows organizations to fully capitalize on the benefits of the mainframe. Modernization results in fit-for-purpose capabilities and integrates the mainframe with other platforms in a hybrid IT estate.

Updating legacy mainframe computing systems is an IT infrastructure modernization strategy that prepares companies for the future without the added costs and effort of cloud transformation. In a recent IDC study, organizations that modernized their mainframe achieved better performance and agility at a lower cost than those that migrated — with a greater increase in revenue. In addition, 90% of executive and technical professionals see the mainframe as a long-term platform for growth. 

The mainframe isn’t going away. Offering enhanced security, high-power performance and constant uptime, mainframe is an essential IT asset for companies across industries. But issues like skills gaps and legacy systems keep many businesses from fully leveraging the mainframe’s computing power. Organizations that build an effective IT infrastructure modernization plan can solve these issues and set themselves apart, creating a foundation for future growth.

The Benefits of Mainframe Modernization

Mainframe is more than a legacy IT solution. Forty percent of companies still run mission-critical business applications like enterprise resource planning, and finance and accounting on legacy mainframe systems. The first step of any mainframe modernization strategy is to recognize mainframe as an equal, fully participating and strategic partner in your IT ecosystem. Incorporating the mainframe into a hybrid ecosystem requires a tailored modernization strategy that factors in your workload requirements, existing infrastructure and transformation best practices.

Mainframe modernization ensures your environment is set up for long-lasting success. Investing in updating your organization's mainframe system reduces barriers to innovation, improves agility and adds new mainframe capabilities. Mainframe modernization services bring companywide benefits, including:

  • Helping companies reduce IT sprawl
  • Eliminating skills gaps
  • Modernizing applications for cross-platform deployment, and
  • Reducing capital costs

This process should be tailored to your organization’s business and technology needs. With a customized approach, you experience benefits unique to your modernization journey. Regardless, it’s important to remember that mainframe modernization doesn’t have to mean migration. Done correctly, modernization is an individualized journey that transforms your organization without large-scale operational shifts. To get there, the first step in your mainframe modernization strategy is crucial: finding a trusted mainframe modernization services provider.

Navigating Your IT Modernization Journey

As you begin to plan mainframe modernization services and the future of your IT infrastructure, it’s useful to become familiar with your options. Offering a lower cost and more effective alternative to complete mainframe to cloud migration, these paths kickstart digital transformation without big organizational changes. Some modernization approaches include:

  • Enable modern capabilities: To reduce long-term capital costs and foster a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), consider integrating the mainframe into broader IT strategies and application development. For example, introducing bi-directional API connectivity enables seamless communication between mainframe and non-mainframe apps.
  • Convert and consolidate select apps and data: To more closely align with skills and talent needed for the future, convert legacy code and data to run anywhere. Consider deploying the converted code (i.e., in Java) or data (i.e., Relational) on the IBM Z platform to take advantage of the z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) engine and to reduce MIPS and costs. These changes enable enhancement and agility of mainframe apps and data with cloud-native functions, such as containers and microservices.
  • Mainframe to cloud migration for select apps, code and data: To propel a stagnant cloud journey, create an intentionally built environment. Selectively migrate apps to the cloud, retiring, rehosting, replacing or refactoring apps that live on the mainframe due to history rather than necessity. Ideal candidates for mainframe to cloud migration include applications without security and compliance concerns and those that would cause minimal business disruption (i.e., web, containerized applications, commerce software and ERP and SFA applications).

No two companies’ workloads and objectives are completely identical — underscoring the importance of tailored mainframe modernization services. While each provider may have a different approach, Ensono breaks the modernization journey down into several value paths that help our clients create intentionally built, business-driven infrastructure. Each step funds and propels the next stage of the IT modernization process.

  1. Application and data modernization
    Converting code and data now means you reap rewards later. This process starts with converting legacy code to modern languages, reducing legacy skills constraints, converting data and consolidating to a modern relational database. From there, you can begin modern app development — moving to microservices architecture, making applications easier to scale and enabling consistent performance through containerization.

    Through modern app management, you eliminate manual processes that delay releases and allow applications to be deployed anywhere. By combining these steps to create a more agile environment, you empower developers to reduce risk and errors. From code conversion through deployment and management, this IT modernization process accelerates innovation and enables exceptional client experiences. 

    With a well-planned mainframe modernization strategy, you can migrate select apps to the cloud while converting apps that remain on the mainframe. This approach also allows for the applications and data to be connected with APIs, resulting in more cohesive and streamlined IT infrastructure.

  2. New insights
    One of the most significant hurdles presented by mainframe-driven workloads is limited access to data. Applications on the mainframe are often treated as a separate entity. In addition, disconnected infrastructure and legacy code hamper these apps from becoming fully integrated components of IT ecosystems. Through mainframe modernization services that focus on hybrid data connectivity, you can unlock new value from existing systems without moving enterprise data.

    You can achieve hybrid data connectivity through application and data modernization, enabling real-time access to data through APIs and data virtualization. This approach minimizes unnecessary data movement and expensive mainframe to cloud migration, connecting your mainframe and non-frame assets with minimal IT lift. Stronger connectivity enables you to focus on analytics performance, optimizing query processes to speed up the availability of insights. Mainframe analytics queries should perform at a level that meets your business needs — and this process helps you get there.

    A more connected environment means you can give data scientists and developers access to Z data. This access drives smarter decision-making in real time using a familiar set of tools and even enhances your insights through machine learning and AI. Use Z data within applications to fuel business innovation. Through hybrid data connectivity and enhanced analytics performance, you can leverage new insights to meet IT modernization objectives.

  3. API-driven IT innovation
    Connectivity fuels innovation. A reliable mainframe modernization partner can introduce infrastructure for REST API, making Z apps and data key to your hybrid cloud strategy. By implementing API solutions that provide easy access to IBM z/OS applications and data, your transformation partner puts your entire IT ecosystem at your fingertips. This also enables you to call APIs from Z apps to enhance them with the power of cloud-native functions, letting you integrate apps and data faster.

    API integrations simplify your business processes. Stitching together APIs to create enterprise-wide coverage improves connectivity between data and systems, enhancing performance. Once these integrations are in place, trusted mainframe modernization services providers like Ensono provide ongoing management, from overseeing the environment to enforcing compliance and usage levels.

  4. DevOps and agile
    Truly capitalizing on mainframe’s value means making this computing technology an

    integral part of your existing DevOps pipeline. Through modern app tooling you can move to a modern, integrated development environment, giving developers the reporting and visualization tools they want. Modern app tooling boosts developer productivity and offers long-term stability, reducing the risk of retiring mainframe expertise.

    After tooling, this stage includes automated app testing and building infrastructure that allows for testing off the mainframe. Then, you can plug mainframe gaps in DevOps and incorporate mainframe fully into the DevOps pipeline as part of the enterprise application development lifecycle. From reduced overhead to an accelerated development lifecycle, this multi-stage process helps your organization meet key IT goals without halts in productivity or disruptive shifts in day-to-day operations.

Modernizing With Ensono

Organizations count on IT leaders to deliver important outcomes, from cutting mainframe costs to moving mainframe applications to cloud. But you don’t have to face IT infrastructure modernization alone. Ensono brings 50 years of experience and mainframe modernization expertise to your organization. We have the knowledge and resources to turn your legacy mainframe into an integral component of a future-proofed IT ecosystem. 

Ensono understands the value of mainframe data processing as well as the potential of cloud computing. We’ll work with you to find the mainframe modernization or mainframe to cloud journey that fits your needs and objectives, reducing mainframe costs while creating a customized IT infrastructure.

Your mainframe-driven environment may be inefficient, but that doesn’t mean it should be replaced entirely. Contact Ensono to start making the most of this powerful computing system.

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