Enterprises have continued to enhance and enrich mainframe applications over the years with additional features and functionalities, with most systems in their current form bear little or no semblance to their original functionality and size. The original authors of such applications have either retired or on the verge of retirement.
The burgeoning growth of mainframe applications and dwindling mainframe skills adversely impact organizations’ agility to respond to business changes, while the increased complexity and loss of SME knowledge results in higher costs of maintenance. It is imperative to address the existing challenges and ensure the next generation programmers continue to design and develop fit-for-purpose workloads on mainframe technologies. We see increased demand across the industry in the areas of relational data management systems, business rules externalization, exploitation of latest technologies made available on the current generation mainframe platform.
To address the challenges for Enterprises with Legacy Modernization environments, its critical to evaluate the application against three dimensions – business alignment, technology currency and architecture fitment – and their sub-parameters.
Enterprises need to adopt one or a combination of the following approaches as per business capability envisaged in the long term
• Optimization – Deals with technology consumption reduction on mainframe platform itself. Candidates include MIPS optimization, batch window reduction, offloading to zIIP/IFL specialty processors, software license rationalization, exit unsupported 3rd party software, leveraging latest features of the Software and revisiting the application program.
• Migration – Port applications off mainframe to Linux/Unix/Windows (L-U-W) platforms with no additional business capability, carrying forward the source application design and modularity. Uses language compilers and runtime environments from Micro Focus, Dell Clerity or Oracle that mimic the source environment. Migration helps address the skill scarcity and allows preparing for future enhancements and modifications.
• Modernization – Involves giving facelift to the applications such as web enablement of presentation tier, componentizing the existing applications for better maintainability (equal to separation of business logic and data access), and rationalization of batch processes, Potential re-write in object oriented languages on mainframe platform itself, with additional functionality – for e.g. COBOL to Java on System Z, REST Based Services, z/OS Connect, Service Componentization, Data Sources to Hadoop, etc.
• Re-engineering – Rebuild applications on L-U-W platforms by extracting system functionality and business rules from the existing applications, and addition use cases from business. This is a Two-stage approach: ‘Reverse Engineering’ for detailed system overview and requirement documents. ‘Forward Engineering’ to develop applications in Java or .NET to meet functional and non-functional requirements.
Is your enterprise getting modernized? What methodologies and approach towards Modernization are you adopting ?