If a new mainframe isn't in your budget, what do you do with unsupported legacy apps? - TmaxSoft
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If a new mainframe isn't in your budget, what do you do with unsupported legacy apps?

Since 2015, IBM has been making changes to System z to make it more attractive to new customers and a better fit for the 21st century. It created LinuxONE, a version of the Linux operating system that runs on System z architecture, along with Linux for z, enabling customers to forego z/OS in favor of the operating system used by most public servers. And in 2019, it announced z15, which represents a sea change in mainframes. The z15 has a 19-inch frame which enables it to fit in a standard data center rather than one built specifically to house a previous edition of System z.

At face value, this all seems very exciting. There’s just one hitch. Most of the world’s enterprises are running mission-critical business applications written for older versions of z/OS on mainframes other than z15. And those apps aren’t compatible with the z15 operating system. So, what can they do? Let’s have a look.

Total eclipse of the compute heart

IBM’s focus in the last decade has been on software and the cloud, and it has sold off much of its hardware business. However, the company has stuck by System z, and it is taking advantage of its acquisition of Red Hat to modernize the venerable mainframe. The result of these changes is an increase in IBM’s mainframe sales in 2020. New customers are interested in what they see as more flexibility from IBM in the era of cloud and distributed architectures.

The problem is that the majority of the IBM mainframe’s install base is one of long standing. IBM’s customers have invested millions of dollars in mainframes and software most likely acquired in the 1980s or 1990s. MOCAS, a U.S. Department of Defense program written in COBOL, is still being used, despite dating back to the late 1950s. There’s no record that I can find of which mainframe ran it back then, but it’s currently running on a z10 model from 2008. MOCAS is ineligible for running on z15, which does not support COBOL written before 2019. This is an extreme example, but there are many like it.

IBM is betting on mainframe customers with unsupported applications getting z15 and either ditching their older machines or using z15 to add capacity—and to support more modern applications. They also have suggested that existing customers switch to LinuxONE or Linux Z. But a new mainframe or a complete application rewrite alternative is out of scope and out of budget for many enterprises—including yours. Fortunately, this painful, expensive solution to the pressing problem of how to keep running core business systems is not the only way out.

A sensible alternative

Did you know you can move legacy mainframe applications from an IBM z/OS environment to an open Linux or UNIX environment in your data center or in the cloud? All it takes is application migration software. Instead of replacing your current mainframe with a new one and then rewriting your applications—an expensive, risky, and time-consuming effort—without any assurance that everything will work flawlessly, you have this much more sensible alternative.

Application migration software re-platforms your applications, migrating them to a new runtime platform. Making minimal changes to code to adapt to the new platform, it recompiles your existing legacy applications, migrates your data to one of many supported modern database platforms, and ensures that everything works. The end-user experience doesn’t change. Everything functions as it did before, but in an open, distributed environment. This alternative is so much less risky than if you rewrote applications that have been developed and enhanced over a period of decades.

Want more details about System z, unsupported legacy apps, and application migration software? Check out our “Mainframe at a Crossroads” whitepaper.

The three Rs: Re-platform, refactor, re-architect

If you choose the right application migration software, you aren’t even locked into one migration methodology. You can choose re-platforming, refactoring, re-architecting, or any combination of these. Re-platforming is the most cost-effective and lowest risk method for migrating your mission-critical legacy applications. Refactoring, which modernizes outdated or unsupported applications that are not easy to migrate while preserving the original logic. Re-architecting is the automated transformation of legacy applications into a modern Java microservices architecture. It is often done after a re-platforming effort or together with one.

So, which software offers you the three Rs? The answer is TmaxSoft OpenFrame. OpenFrame delivers all the benefits of a major modernization project but with substantially lower costs and lower risk. OpenFrame can be a great solution – whether you want to start small or are ready for a re-platform and re-architect scenario. To learn more, visit us.tmaxsoft.com/openframe.

Kelly McClure is the Vice President of Global Marketing for TmaxSoft. Her 20-year marketing career spans both Fortune 1000 companies and fast growth technology startups. Kelly is responsible for leading TmaxSoft’s marketing strategy. She is experienced in aligning marketing and sales, building relevant content and messaging and developing integrated lead generation campaigns. Before joining TmaxSoft, Kelly served as the Vice President of Marketing for 10th Magnitude and held senior marketing roles with DataStax, BMC Software and Micro Focus. Kelly has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.