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COVID-19 Places Greater Emphasis on Need for Mainframe Modernization

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COVID-19 has had a profound impact on business IT. This past year, we saw many organizations thrive by making business transactions safer and giving educators the ability to teach remotely. On the contrary, some organizations struggled with system failures and website outages as record unemployment claims stressed outdated technology. While the mainframe is a platform of choice for enterprises that rely on its computing power and stability, its aging infrastructure and software requirements are complex and expensive to maintain. Many organizations are now reevaluating long-term strategies to determine how they can improve performance, control costs and add the flexibility of the cloud in their IT environment. Mainframe modernization has become a big part of this conversation.

According to IBM, 71% of Fortune 500 companies depend on mainframes for their business-critical transactions and data processing. While these powerful machines are essential, many are in need of modernization since they have limitations when integrated with modern technologies.

What is Mainframe Modernization?

At FNTS, we see mainframe modernization as aligning mainframe cost, operations and risk factors into a long-term strategy. This can take several forms, based on how the mainframe is being used and what role it will play in a company’s strategy. The cloud has created more options for those modernizing their mainframes. We typically see organizations adopt a Mainframe-as-a-Service model, where a managed services provider (MSP) manages mainframes remotely or in their own data center. This fully managed approach allows organizations to reap the benefits of the cloud without having to pay the long-term costs of maintaining aging hardware.

In 2020, 98% of organizations had plans to move legacy apps to the cloud, according to a 2020 Mainframe Modernization Business Barometer Report. The ability to migrate workloads more readily to adapt to real-time demands, both between cloud environments and within the mainframe, have changed how IT leaders view their modernization journey. With so many organizations working toward cloud and multi-cloud operating models, its crucial to integrate key mainframe apps and data to create a more comprehensive strategy. Doing so can capitalize on opportunities to move workloads that can benefit from the cloud, while cost effectively leveraging mainframe investments.

Modernization begins with positioning your IT environment to provide stable and cost-effective operations. Legacy app modernization can take many months to years to complete per app, so reducing cost and operational overhead is crucial to allow client teams to shift their attention to app modernization or replacement.

Mainframe Challenges and Motivators for Modernization

During the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations were challenged to find capital to support customer-facing projects, such as modernizing apps to make daily transactions more efficient. As a result, they’re looking to repurpose capital they would otherwise spend on refreshing on-premise mainframes or implementing additional storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions. Mainframe modernization can make implementing these services possible while reducing total cost of ownership. It also can relieve cost-pressure from migration timelines, allowing additional time for better app evaluation, migration and quality assurance.

In addition to the challenges of controlling mainframe costs over time, many of our clients also struggled to maintain in-house support resources and skill sets needed to keep their operation afloat prior to their mainframe modernization. It is a common misconception that the support personnel organizations need to care for their mainframes will always be available in the market. As older generations of legacy professionals retire, critical skills to run mainframes are becoming harder to find. However, through mainframe modernization with an MSP, organizations can leverage a team of resources with deep skill sets on a fractional basis, making support predictable and cost-effective.

What Outcomes Can Be Achieved?

FNTS has been a go-to partner for mainframe and IBM technology modernization for more than 25 years, making digital transformation of legacy systems more affordable and accessible to clients in a wide range of industries, including financial services, government, healthcare, retail, manufacturing and education. Our experienced bench of certified mainframe professionals understand our clients’ operational and regulatory needs and deliver seamless and cost-effective operations remotely or in our world-class data centers. We optimize mainframe costs through utilizing the economies of scale, minimizing potential downtime, mitigating risks and providing additional value through storage, backup and disaster recovery services.

Our project managers, engineers and service support personnel work with clients to provide clear sight-lines to tasks and timelines throughout the transition. The FNTS engagement and implementation process creates clear visibility to tasks and risk remediation that consistently creates the following successful outcomes for customers:

  • Eliminate the ongoing software and operating expenses associated with maintaining equipment on-site. While each environment varies, organizations generally see a TCO reduction in the range of 15-25% per year for fully managed services. Savings can be compounded if application modernization timelines are expected to run into multiple years.
  • Access around the clock IT support and resources. We provide personalized support, roadmaps and guidance for compliance and auditing, guaranteeing value of your cloud deployments, especially when staffing and backups are needed.
  • Future-proof workloads with the latest technology, equipment and best practices. Experience improved performance and processing times with our reliable and redundant infrastructure and configuration. By partnering with FNTS, you also will have access to the latest technologies, strategies and resources.
  • Enable staff to focus on more customer-oriented projects. Give your teams the time and agility needed to focus on more long-term, strategic initiatives.
  • Minimize both operational and financial risk. FNTS provides the expertise and resources needed to handle your mission-critical workloads.

One of our state government clients was able to reduce mainframe costs by $1.5 million per year by migrating mainframe workloads to our Mainframe-as-a-Service model. We consolidated their software and leveraged our economies of scale to save them in licensing costs; enhance the depth and breadth of technical resources; and implement a robust disaster recovery solution.

Many organizations fear they will be left behind competitively if they fail to modernize. As legacy technology professionals retire, an MSP can fully manage mainframe platforms no matter where it is located – modernizing applications, reducing workloads and reallocating resources while moving away from the mainframe platform. Whether you’re planning a mainframe exit strategy or mainframe modernization to improve performance and reduce TCO, FNTS has decades of legacy expertise ready to assist.