Our 2020 Mainframe Modernization Survey revealed various behaviors and opinions of over 160 mainframe users from all over the globe. The respondent’s answers helped provide a snapshot of the current trends and attitudes in the community. One of the most heavily debated topics for mainframe users is whether or not to migrate off the mainframe, and the results from our survey reflect this conflict.
While 21% of our survey respondents have no plans to migrate applications off the mainframe, we found that 58% are either planning to migrate some or are currently migrating some of their apps. At the same time, only 16% of respondents are planning to or are actively migrating ALL of their applications off the mainframe.
This means that most mainframe modernization plans involve ultimately keeping the mainframe around, at least for the time being. Whether companies see the benefits of its high stability, the availability of its technology, or they cannot imagine moving off the mainframe, it’s clear the mainframe is not going anywhere anytime soon. Migrating off the mainframe is not a decision that should be made lightly.
As we discussed in our last blog post, mainframes can take a toll on a company’s budget. Plans to migrate are born from the simple need to cut costs. Not only are mainframes themselves expensive, but companies pay monthly licensing fees that tend to rise yearly, in addition to the sunk cost of the mainframe itself. Companies can underestimate the length of time it takes to complete a major migration project, which means the cost, as well as the inconvenience, will be higher than expected.
At the same time, the number of developers who are trained to work on the mainframe is declining, making it difficult and expensive to find skilled employees. However, not all mainframe migration issues revolve around budget. Some of the most prevalent risks when migrating off the mainframe include poor project phasing and a lack of clear tools and procedures for potential phase reversal, as well as, increased risk and problems from poor processes.
For example, a company has applications on the mainframe that are interconnected and directly interface with each other. If a decision is made to move off the mainframe without having done the proper preparation, these interface routines can be affected, having disastrous ramifications. Because there are many difficulties when migrating off the mainframe, partial migrations are becoming more popular.
Modernization of interfaces and code by migrating them off the mainframe is one of the most common and impactful ways to partially migrate. This often involves moving all COBOL code work off the mainframe and on to modern platforms or to an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). By keeping the security and stability of the mainframe, but moving some applications off premises, a partial migration brings more versatility and agility to the mainframe, while leveraging your applications that are already working.
-Amanda Bierfeld Williams, Marketing Coordinator at GT Software