How the Cloud overshadows the mainframe

The mainframe has been around for more than six decades and has earned itself an enviable track record as the platform for critical applications, bulk data and transaction processing across multiple industries. It has gone through many significant changes while continuing to support applications that were created decades ago.

Whilst some regard the mainframe as a trusted system – a secure and stable platform that reliably delivers robust business processes and services – it has become the ultimate legacy framework. Over the years, new technology and modern architectures have led companies to wrestle with the question as to whether the mainframe should stay or go.

Why are mainframes going out of fashion?

The main reasons for exploring the mainframe question are well documented and the principal considerations are highlighted below based on NWT’s experience. However, the fundamental question that must be answered is “what’s the business purpose for the change?”.

From a security perspective, the mainframe itself has the highest server security rating in the industry; however, legacy systems tend to be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, malware since they were developed in the days before cyber-attacks were recognised threats.

Despite the costs and potential disruption, modernising legacy IT systems and software to modern digital and agile platforms can provide the opportunity to deliver enormous benefits over time through substantially reduced development timescales which enable rapid deployment of new services in response to dynamically changing markets.

Moreover, the demographics of the people equipped with mainframe skills represents a significant risk. The age profile of software developers with mainframe skills is heavily skewed towards a mature person and these people are retiring at an increasing rate.

Replacement with individuals from the younger generations is limited as mainframe skills are not considered attractive in terms of career potential. Resourcing is also a risk.  Resourcing both in terms of being a constraint on development capability and on the ability of an organisation to provide business continuity.

IT leaders are increasingly compelled to embrace a drive to the cloud and big data as part of a legacy modernisation agenda to:

  • Manage explosive data consumption
  • Eliminate repetitive, disconnected systems and improve integration
  • Gain agility and cost savings through platform migration
  • Achieve regulatory compliance
  • Reduce code complexity
  • Increase speed to market / agility to adapt and respond
  • Leverage technology developments
  • Prepare for a change in technological skills and business knowledge

So, what are the alternative strategies for your mainframe, and which is the right one for you? The answer depends on a myriad of factors. 

Many organisations are likely to pursue a blend of strategies depending on the characteristics of each mainframe application in question, bearing in mind that there is still a role for mainframe applications alongside cloud solutions. Ultimately the decision to continue using a mainframe is not an either-or proposition. To help determine what is right for your business, we follow a tried-and-tested process to identify and create a framework on which you can operate.

5D Methodology

5D Methodology

Our methodology will introduce a set of principles, tools and practices which can be used to guide processes to achieve a particular goal. It is focussed on achieving the ‘transformed operation’ and helping to develop solutions that introduce business impact and not just technology features. In short, we aim to align the best technologies and the best solutions to transform your enterprise and create competitive advantage. We follow a five-stage process that will help you to:

  • Define the business justification and expected outcomes – we spend time on the overall system of things and the possibility of alternative scenarios based on evidence and forward-thinking
  • Discover essential transformational issues and how they can be overcome – the observation of new phenomena, actions and events. New reasoning to explain the knowledge gathered combined with abstract thought and everyday experiences
  • Decide the migration approach that is right for your business – it is our relentless focus on ensuring that every action contributes to the delivery of benefits, that drives your business strategy
  • Develop the solutions and adoption plan to meet those business outcomes – in order to generate sustainable business improvements, we focus on the business outcomes not just on the technology journey
  • Deliver the desired modernisation/migration and changes across IT and business processes – we do not sit back and monitor history; we actively go out and manage the future. Our goal is to energise resources and own /enable quality solutions and delivery plans to be delivered

The risks and costs of any migration are high according to a Gartner survey (using the insurance industry as an example, only 42% of migration projects meet the original budget and 82% take longer than expected). You need help and advice from people who have the experience to understand the pitfalls and to help make you successful – let NWT help you understand where you are today and develop a view on where you need to get to – and then help you to make it happen.

Other key features of the NWT approach are collaboration and re-use – NWT consultants work collaboratively with your team to gather the information we need and are actively engaged in the full 5D lifecycle. We also look to operate as efficiently as possible, leverage existing data/materials where possible, conducting workshops/meetings remotely where appropriate to ensure we deliver maximum value for money.

Whether migrating or modernising your mainframe environment, the best approach is to work with people that have no stake in that decision, but who have the knowledge and experience to be trusted to give the right advice and be there to help you through the migration. A team that can work with your own people – and with access to the right technology providers to help if required. NWT is such a team.

Together, Anexinet and NWT are uniquely positioned to help clients streamline their journey to the Cloud in the face of the pandemic by designing, building, automating and managing their workloads and applications on Enterprise-Cloud or Cloud-Hyperscalers, including AWS, Alibaba, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. The strategic partnership has already helped one established financial institution unlock significant value by accelerating the development and delivery of effective, integrated Cloud-based solutions. Anexinet’s proven Kickstart process and comprehensive set of tools and services deliver an Agile, scalable Cloud-based environment that embraces traditional IT as well as Private, Public, and Managed Cloud. Migrating applications and business systems to the Cloud is a daunting task for even the most mature organization. As a result, a Cloud-adoption strategy and roadmap often means the difference between successful deployment and failure to launch. Anexinet helps organizations determine their ideal strategic approach.


How Anexinet aligns with our 5D framework