These days, computer manufacturers refer to the largest type of commercial-use server as a mainframe, and cost reduction and the organisation’s drive to improve efficiencies are fueling the need to modernise mainframe operations.
There are two types of mainframe modernisation initiatives. One type is upgrading the current mainframe and the applications, and the second is to move the operations from the mainframe to more modern hardware and software, such as the cloud environment.
For each type, you need the specifics on the issues you will face. The solution for your business depends on many factors including costs, possible downtime, level of expertise, benefit analysis, and comfort level. With the assistance of an expert firm that specializes in modernising mainframes, you can analyze your situation to make the most suitable decision for your business.
A Modernised Mainframe
Technically, there are six critical areas you need to consider when modernising your mainframe:
- Shorten application delivery cycles and control costs
- Strengthen mainframe application access and data security
- Increase user productivity
- Integrate systems, tools and services
- Update to the cloud environment
- Accelerate mainframe application development
These areas can be optimized so that your enterprise can continue to make use of the equipment it has invested in and the system that houses all the essential data. You will need to investigate which sections of your mainframe require modernising and put a plan in place to move through modernisation progressively, allowing for testing at each phase to ensure that the changes will benefit the bottom line.
Another area where modernisation is possible is through software development. Today, mainframe software licensing costs are being tailored to meet business needs by moving away from customer peak usage costs. For example, “IBM continues to adopt new tools and practices for its mainframe customers to keep the Big Iron relevant in a cloud world,” according to Networkworld.
From Legacy to a New Paradigm
This type of modernisation entails migrating applications to distributed environments on site and in the cloud. One of the first steps is to identify the services and software that involve the mainframe. Decide if only sections or all the applications within the legacy mainframe are to be moved. It is imperative that significant applications directly related to core business operations must be smoothly transitioned.
Significant code modernisation has taken place to help better optimize your existing code. Since the new code will be able to run on the mainframe or on other platforms, you will have flexibility in design.
In addition, high-performance, in-memory technology can leverage the cost of running your mainframe to reduce costs. Also, newer software can take advantage of in-memory technology to improve performance.
Even more business efficiency can be gained by analyzing your company’s IT data. For example, what happens to your data during a merger, change in manufacturing process or the launch of a new product? Once a baseline of usage has been established, then cost comparisons can take place. Modernisation usually brings with it many cost benefits, allowing you to concentrate on growing your business.
Critical Strategies for Success
Here are some vital strategies for success when implementing mainframe modernisation in your organisation:
- Test Cases: For critical data and operations, start with test cases to make sure that all surprises can be managed successfully.
- Incident Tracking Tool: From the very beginning of the change process, institute an incident tracking tool so every issue reported can be analysed.
- Consult Your Internal Experts: The staff who manage the day-to-day operations understand their part of the system well. It is best to leverage their expertise to optimize the reach of the changes you are making.
- Automate Processes: Artificial intelligence capabilities such as automation or predictive analytics can change how you deploy your staff and respond to customer needs. Whenever possible, consider automating tasks to free your staff for the more critical aspects of their role whether it is IT, finance, human resources, marketing or other roles. “Organisations that place a premium on advanced analytics are bound to learn more about unmet customer needs, under-funded parts of the business, emerging business models, and more. This can naturally help businesses better drive the top line,” explains TechRadar.
- Monitor Return on Investment: Take a baseline reading before the modernisation begins and then document the effect of the changes made. Were there some efficiencies in time to complete tasks, a decrease in usage of expensive computing time, or new insights when the sharing of data was made possible? Do your staff see an improvement in using applications?
Hybrid IT to Implement Mainframe Modernisation
In the end, you may be best served with a comprise in developing a plan for how to implement mainframe modernisation in your organisation. It may be prudent to consider “hybrid IT, which can accelerate delivery of IT resources, increase IT efficiency, and fuel creativity and innovation – bridging traditional and transformational IT services, from mainframe to mobile, corporate to cloud,” according to TechRadar.