Mainframe access modernisation is an essential issue that all mainframe users face. As more and more mainframes become legacy systems and new technologies emerge, enterprises face the dilemma of migrating to new technology or modernising their apps to enable them to continue accessing and using their mainframes. Read on to find out the pros and cons of each choice.

What is a Mainframe Computer?

A mainframe is a giant computer that can process information rapidly, hold vast caches of data, perform complex computations, and – despite it being traditional infrastructure – is a reliable and robust piece of machinery. Due to its dependability, it is continued to be used in various applications like the banking industry, public sector, giant retailers, insurance companies, and global corporations, among others.

Why Continue to Use Mainframes?

Mainframes have been around for many decades. They have proven to be very resilient and silenced their critics who forecast their demise as far back as the mid- to late ‘90s. Why do corporations continue to stick to mainframes despite the development of several new and probably efficient technologies? Here are the main reasons:


Mainframes provide a very high-level of data encryption features, reason that  % of all credit card transactions are carried out on mainframes. They have built-in security protocols, and there has been not a single incident of spyware, malware or virus attack on mainframes in the last 50 years.


Mainframes use some of the most powerful processors ever invented. They can perform billions of instructions, batch jobs, parallel processing, move tons of data, and system tasks – without crashing.

Customized Use

Most of the mainframes offer a high-level of customization. You can use them to support extra workload or turn off additional processors as needed. This flexibility in operating procedures makes them very popular among large, process-driven enterprises.

Durability, Long Life

The minimum life of a mainframe is at least 10 years. After that, depending on the sales contract, the manufacturer can either replace or upgrade it.


A mainframe is highly compatible with other software applications and hardware configurations. It does not interfere or intrude into other systems and has its operating system to run things efficiently. It can also run on multiple operating systems and still offer top-notch performance.


Mainframes are a robust piece of computer engineering. It improves business performance and continuity, prevents loss, and delivers more at lower cost.

How Do Firms Access the Applications of the Legacy Mainframe?

In computer terminology, a legacy system refers to an outdated and obsolete method used to run applications and conduct business. They may have become old and outlived their utility but can still solve problems and carry out essential tasks. However, challenges and risks abound with a legacy system, such as crashing if it overheats or is overloaded.

Mainframes are one such legacy system and access modernisation poses a real challenge for organisations that want to streamline or transform their digital systems.

Migration or Modernisation: Which Is Better?

When it comes to mainframe access modernisation, the debate rages on whether you should migrate to a full-fledged system change and move to newer cloud-based computational and storage options or keep the mainframe legacy system but modernise its interface, code, cost, performance, and maintainability. Both approaches have their pros and cons, and it is hard to fully favor one course while rejecting the other altogether. Other organisations go for a hybrid approach. Here are some essential considerations when deciding whether to migrate or modernise:

The Nature of Your Organisation’s Business

This pertains to how technologically intensive and complex your organisation’s operations are. If your business requires high computational and processing powers that the legacy system cannot handle, then you might qualify for migration.


Migration comes with a heavy price tag. Do you have the financial resources to support such a transition? Like any technology, both migration and modernisation entail expenditure. It is up to you which one makes better sense for your business to spend on.

Human Resources

Like material resources, human resources are equally important to influence your decision about migration or modernisation. Mainframe access modernisation might be easier to handle and understand for the staff than switching to new technology. Or they may be better trained in recent technologies and might need more training to learn mainframe maintenance.

Exploring New Opportunities

If your organisation is losing customers, and missing out on new business opportunities, and losing its competitive advantage because of its legacy mainframe, then migration might be a better option.

NST Offers Mainframe Access Modernisation Services

At NST, our heritage lies in mainframe technologies, starting from the 1970s. Whilst computing has evolved over the years, many large organisations still depend on mission-critical core business applications that still run and deliver value. NST can assist by unlocking these applications and transforming them into the modern era. We provide a comprehensive range of services for mainframe access modernisation which will enable you to:

  • Choose where and how to build and deploy applications
  • Update your mainframe application delivery process with practices and tools for implementing Agile and DevOps
  • Unlock and update access to mainframe applications and data
  • Build next-generation services that integrate business processes and systems

To learn how you start your journey to mainframe access modernisation, contact us today or visited any of our offices in Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth.