Mainframe Modernization: Three is a Magic Number - TmaxSoft
TmaxSoft Named a Mainframe Modernization Software Leader for the Second Year in a Row.
Read the Full Report

Mainframe Modernization: Three is a Magic Number

How are your mainframe systems and applications holding up to the requirements of more agile and modern technology? What are the maintenance costs looking like? How can your organization reliably extend the ROI of its IT systems?

Modernizing your mainframe is the most dependable approach to wringing the most value from aging legacy systems. It can quickly pay off by saving costs, improving business services, and providing the flexibility and adaptability needed to meet demands for instantaneous, highly personalized experiences. How? By building on the value a system already provides—often a heritage of functionality that has lasted for decades and is a competitive differentiator—protecting it, and maintaining it for the future.

If you’ve been keeping count, you might have noticed that this article opened with three questions, three value propositions, and three answers to how mainframe modernization delivers benefits. That’s because when it comes to the mainframe, three is a magic number. (If you are old enough to remember, there was a Schoolhouse Rock song by that name.) If your enterprise is considering a mainframe modernization journey, you can choose from three options. Let’s take a look.

1. Reduce MIPs

The first mainframe modernization option is reducing MIPs, whereby you identify high-consumption workloads in your environments and offload them onto less costly open systems or the cloud. MIPS is a measurement of CPU resource consumption, and one unit is equal to 1 million instructions per second. The average organization uses thousands of MIPs at roughly $3285 a pop. According to a 2015 Science of Computer Programming article, MIPs usage is rising by double-digits each year. If a company running 5000 MIPS has an increase of 10%, the incremental cost will be well over $1.3 million a year based on costs $3285. (Did anybody else catch the 3s in some of these numbers?)

The result of moving heavy workloads off the mainframe is a functionally equivalent operating environment that decreases total cost of ownership and adds flexibility to infrastructure and underlying software. Here’s an example: a global insurance agency moved 4,000 batch programs and 3,000 online programs from its mainframe to a UNIX server and saw a substantial improvement in performance and reduction in costs and MIPs.

2. Move Orphaned Apps

The second option is to migrate orphaned apps to a new open platform. What are orphaned apps? These are applications and software that have been around for many years, and their original owners and operating details might not be known. Because they rely on outdated or no longer available infrastructure, databases or operating systems, they hinder the overall performance of your mainframe and affect the ROI of any major IT upgrade.

The process of moving many of these applications is straightforward. Automated tools convert the applications, and the data structures are mirrored onto a UNIX-based, x86, or a cloud platform. The programs are then compiled, the sequential files are translated, and a new environment is installed and configured. Your mainframe is freed from the burden of running these apps, and they get a new lease on life. As a result, organizations have seen a reduction in run costs—as much as a 78%—in the size of the application footprint. One global financial services company was able to reduce 71 million lines of code to 16 million lines.

3: Replace the Mainframe

Replacement is the third option. It moves the mainframe as-is to open systems where it provides services equivalent to those of the mainframe. It’s a cost-effective alternative to ripping and replacing for any organization with a mainframe that’s draining performance but has a convoluted infrastructure that can’t be untangled so that parts can move to other systems.

Like the other two modernization options, replacement ends the frustration of slow or no response. It delivers a secure, high-performance and flexible environment that dynamically scales based on business demand. Your end users experience maximum service and reliability even during peak processing. There are no changes to the underlying business logic or user interface. Nor is there a negative impact on the enterprise. Replacement through rehosting can even transform user experiences and unlock the value of your mainframe apps by exposing those apps to web services for mobile and digital applications.

Recently, a multi-billion-dollar Korean financial services firm made this decision. The result is a modern infrastructure that uses UNIX servers to ensure better performance and reliability than the mainframe it replaced. Administration tools and enhanced system integration functions simplify the operation and management of the system.

The Right Choice

So, which of the three options is the magic one for you? The answer depends on your apps, your systems, your infrastructure, and your mainframe. For some enterprises, reduction in MIPS has brought needed relief. For others, giving orphan applications a new home on an open system has been the answer. And finally, replacing your mainframe through rehosting may be the best option for you in order to move the mainframe as-is to open systems to prevent lengthy downtimes which keeps your business reputation intact and provides the flexibility needed for modern apps and technology.

For more details on the three mainframe modernization paths, and the solution best able to give you the benefits of a modernization with reduced cost and risk, check out this guide.


Paul Bobak is the Vice President, Technical Field Services at TmaxSoft. He has more than 30 years of IT and ISV senior management experience with global companies. At TmaxSoft, he has responsibility for pre- and post-sales support and services. Paul has a diverse mainframe, database, distributed and SOA technology background along with in-depth experience growing and managing teams in multi-platform enterprise-wide environments. He has consistently taken a consultative approach to solving client business challenges, while strategically aligning technology to support clients’ business objectives. Paul has a successful track record for hiring, motivating and retaining performance-driven teams and building a culture of doing what’s needed to ensure customer success. His leadership experience includes senior management roles at Legent, Oracle, Tibco and Netezza. He holds two degrees in Computer Science.