We are in the fast-paced era of digital transformation, yet many companies rely on a 90-year-old technology: the mainframe. In fact, 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies still use mainframes and handle 68 percent of the world’s production IT load. Mainframe use is particularly prevalent in banking and insurance, government, healthcare, and retail.
Mainframes still dominate the industry for many reasons: they work well; they are intertwined with business processes; historically, they have struggled to evolve. Many IT leaders view mainframe modernization as a black box of risk, cost, and multi-year investment, at a time when they cannot afford any of the above. So it’s no surprise that many IT leaders are reluctant to abandon this proven technology.
Vietnamese IT services giant FPT Software is helping companies and leaders navigate mainframe modernization, decision making and plan restructuring initiatives for success. We also provide customer-centric end-to-end digital transformation solutions and comprehensive technology services, including consulting, discovery, implementation, operations and maintenance, to many industry-leading companies around the world.
Traditional mainframes do not provide the agility companies need
Several trends are causing leaders to reconsider this approach. Mainframes are often highly customized to run hard-coded business processes when companies move to the cloud for greater agility. This is an era of microservices, no-code platforms, cloud workloads, and APIs.
So it’s no surprise that tech companies like Fujitsu have announced plans to discontinue mainframe sales and support. Companies are scrambling to find COBOL programmers to support the estimated 220 billion lines of code still in use today, as existing talent continues to retire in droves.
Should you replatform or refactor? Subject to availability.
The good news is that partners’ business models, technologies and services have evolved to the point that modernizing the mainframe is no longer a dire event. Gartner has identified seven different approaches. However, most people will probably choose to re-platform or refactor.
Platform refactoring is the easiest way to get new functionality. Your mainframe and its data migrate to a modern cloud environment, while your user experience and business processes remain the same. This approach requires minimal code changes and is best when cost, speed of deployment, and the desire to minimize business disruption are the highest priorities. Future-proof your business, technology and talent pool by gaining cloud-native capabilities and trading COBOL for the Java and C# programming languages. In addition, many companies have reduced their mainframe operating costs by 70% or more through cloud services. However, if your business processes are convoluted and slow, a platform refactoring will reduce the status quo.
Refactoring involves heavier lifting. You need to invest more time, cost, and resources in refactoring legacy code into languages like Java or C# to get the most from new cloud capabilities and features. Typical drivers of refactoring include leaders’ desire to simplify business processes; rationalize functionality; improve user experience, performance, and security; and reduce operational costs. The company also reduces technical debt by simplifying the code base, while creating a solid platform for innovation and business transformation.
So, should you replatform or refactor? The answer will depend on your business drivers. For many companies, the answer is both.
Four Steps to Mainframe Modernization
As Digital Transformation A subject matter expert in solutions and comprehensive technology services, FPT works with companies to help them make the decisions that are best for their business. Here are the four steps we recommend customers explore when beginning their mainframe modernization efforts:
- Evaluate your company’s codebase and data: Analysis tools can help you understand what percentage of your codebase and data can be moved to the cloud without manual action and is refactored Ideal. Make sure that complex code is also identified and may be better maintained through platform refactoring.
Mainframes play a vital role in industry. However, the reality is that they were built for another era. Companies need more speed, flexibility and innovation that traditional mainframes cannot provide.
FPT Software can help you understand mainframe modernization opportunities; develop a plan to achieve your goals; hire a talented, cost-effective workforce to refactor and refactor your code; clarify to reduce risk; and to provide value from the beginning of the partnership.
Len Bertelli is a seasoned thought leader specializing in advising organizations on how to leverage new technologies to build and maintain solid foundations and critical applications to meet changing requirements and strategic business goals. As Senior Vice President of FPT Software, he works closely with leading organizations in North America, advising on digital transformation strategies and enterprise architecture for business-critical technology initiatives. Prior to joining FPT, Len served as CIO, CTO and Vice President of Development at various manufacturing and waste management organizations including Waste Management, Casella Waste, Pantechnick International and Pitney Bowes.