Legacy Assessment for a Virtualized Environment
For all but the biggest enterprises with enormous CAPEX budgets, retiring legacy systems for virtualized x86-based systems is the logical choice, but orderly migration of legacy systems poses many daunting challenges. This is due to the critical applications that they run and the complexity of migrating some of them to the cloud.
Legacy system migration should not disrupt the business, so the question of how to evolve the legacy system becomes the next issue. Organizations can achieve their goals by doing one of the following:
- Continuing to maintain the legacy system
- Re-engineering the legacy system
- Migrating to a new system
OPEX for maintaining legacy systems will increase over time, but the true cost is in loss of business opportunity. In other words, businesses must have a firm idea about why they are migrating to ensure that the process is targeted and worthwhile.
When detering what to migrate, start by conducting application assessment and mapping. A number of factors should be considered when undertaking this assessment, such as:
- Application dependencies
- The age of the hardware and software
- Its interoperability with other business systems
- Whether your legacy system supports your business process model
- The hardware failure rate
- The overall performance of the system
How Modernization Delivers TCO, OPEX, and CAPEX Benefits
It's true that staffing expertise, potential data loss, and application refactoring are all potential roadblocks to legacy mainframe modernization. However, the benefits of digital transformation, business competitiveness, and innovation often demand the change.
The legacy mainframe often weighs down organizations with an outdated approach to IT, and modernization poises the business for unconstrained digital transformation. Moving an application to a contemporary hardware and software infrastructure has many benefits associated with it:
- A migrated system is more amenable to change, enhancing the agility of the organization
- Software licensing costs are dramatically reduced
- Hardware infrastructure costs are reduced
- Integration with other systems becomes less costly and easier
- Application runtime performance is enhanced—which can deliver large productivity gains
- Access to more productive development tools
- Access to a larger skills pool
- Increase business agility with rapid application development and deployment
- Reduce costs of running your business-critical applications
- Improve your rate of return
- Leverage the cloud for your applications
Modernization or migration should begin with an assessment of the data center IT infrastructure. The idea is to create a roadmap for achieving improved performance, operational support, and cost management. It is important to examine the potential risks and costs associated with disrupting the current applications on the system by evaluating the time, effort, and knowledge capital required for the project.
With application dependencies mapped, the organization can make determinations about which applications to migrate to the cloud based on compatibility and if they require refactoring on a code level. Since refactoring for cloud readiness is often the case with legacy mainframe applications, the decision can be made based on the complexity of the process and the mission-critical nature of the application.
The Benefits of Hyperconvergence in Virtualized Environments
While virtualization is foundational to digital transformations, organizations need solutions that are extremely agile to meet the evolving needs of disparate branch locations ,IoT, Big Data and the vanishing network edge. Hyperconvergence, which combines storage, computing and networking into a single system is proving to provide the needed reduction in data center complexity and increase scalability.
Solution like the Dell EMC VxRail Appliance family powered by VMware vSAN along with Dell EMC VxRack Systems and XC Series, organizations can get plug-and-play appliances that make agile and simple hyperconvergence a reality for:
- Expanding enterprise application needs (data-demanding applications such as OLTP, in-memory databases, OLAP, CRM and ERP)
- Meeting database growth and management needs
- Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud approaches
- Network segmentation
- VDI and more
The pursuit of the software-defined data center (SDDC) and software-defined networking (SDN) are dependent on compatibility across virtualized systems. With Dell EMC HCI solutions fully compatible with VMware vSphere 6.5 and VMware vSAN, organizations get the agility, scalability, security, and adaptability that they need for true digital transformation.
By utilizing Dell EMC solutions in conjunction with VMware to handle cloud-ready apps, organizations can take advantage of agile and cost-effective approaches, such as containerization, microservices, and more. The result is that workloads reside in the best place for cost and performance so that the organization gets the maximum benefits in terms of strategic agility and security.
For example, a hosted private cloud utilizing VMware is ideal for migrating from legacy infrastructure due to increased:
- Regulatory compliance control
- Application performance
- More agile and accurate provisioning
One of the most important benefits of private clouds involves applications on legacy infrastructure that aren’t engineered for the cloud. These might include monolithic applications such as legacy ERP systems and other applications with complex dependencies.
Moving these applications to the cloud in a secure way that maintains their performance often requires complex rearchitecting or even replacement. That can make it difficult to ensure the application will work in the same way or better than before the migration. Rearchitecting or refactoring are expensive and time-consuming options with uncertain outcomes, but with VMware and vCloud, legacy apps can often be migrated from on-premises legacy infrastructure to a hosted private cloud as they are.
Mainframe migrations are often a combination of modernization deployments and partial migration projects. Depending on a number of factors, the ROI of a mainframe migration can be significant and can come rapidly after migration completion.
Moving legacy technology to newer platforms can deliver significant cost savings, but it’s not without potential complications. These complications can be mitigated through automation and orchestration tools that can perform data conversions, VM rightsizing, and cloud optimization. There are also tools to convert the code from one platform to another in order to be either compiled or interpreted.
Servers and Business Need Evolution
Migrating mainframe applications to modern platforms can deliver significant short- and long-term CAPEX and OPEX savings. Equally important is how migration positions the business for faster time to market and digital transformation.
Organizations face a great deal of complexity in making the decisions surrounding how to move mainframe applications to the cloud. Most businesses will look to a hybrid cloud model approach, because mainframe costs are much higher than those of commodity hardware used for VMware, vSphere Hypervisor, and vSphere for the cloud.
Also, virtualized environments in the cloud have a more consistent and shorter hardware refresh cycle than is possible with legacy mainframes. Moreover, VMware in conjunction with vRealize automation can free the modern enterprise in terms of CAPEX, OPEX, and agility constraints. It can also facilitate DevOps, mobility, and much more, through solutions like the vRealize Suite.
The ability to look to an integrated solutions provider for end-to-end hybrid cloud, networking and storage solutions can both simplify planning and implementation while reducing CAPEX and OPEX. For example, Dell EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud dramatically simplifies the deployment of a VMware-based hybrid cloud platform, which speeds digital transformation while eliminating risks, costs and integration issues.
The Importance of Strategic and IT Staffing Through Outsourcing
Legacy mainframe maintenance and modernization, as well as application migrations to virtual cloud-based platforms, are all complex decisions and processes that require advanced expertise. Internal IT teams are already overburdened with other infrastructure maintenance and development projects. With only so many hours in the day, they cannot be expected to devote such large blocks of their limited time to legacy mainframe maintenance or the platform upgrades that are required.
In addition, the challenges of mainframe expertise and planning the best approach to ensure that the business doesn’t experience downtime or disruptions are also major concerns. Having the support of strategic and IT staffing through an outsourced MSP can overcome these challenges in a time-, expertise-, and cost-effective way. The benefits of this approach include:
- Specialized skills on demand
- Legacy system and new technology integration
- Process strategy development for mainframe migration and implementation
- Cost reductions (personnel and hardware)
- Leading manufacturer partnerships and certifications
- Long-term IT strategy development (networking, public and private cloud, and so on)
An important fact to consider is that, for most businesses, mainframes will continue to play a vital part in the IT infrastructure for some time to come. Skilled and versatile MSPs can provide managed mainframe services that do more than just keep the mainframe running.
It can be a complex and challenging process to integrate mainframe applications and data with the rest of the IT infrastructure. Moving information from mainframes to commodity servers brings its own challenges due to the differences in their respective hardware and software environments.
"Internal IT teams are already overburdened with other infrastructure maintenance and development projects."
While there are tools available to handle these processes, they are often complex and require a high degree of expertise in mainframe and virtual systems. MSPs can therefore help companies deploy mainframe integration solutions or build new ones.
With the mainframe skills shortage, MSPs can deliver mainframe services to companies that rely on legacy systems but lack the expertise to effectively support them. This broadens business operational possibilities in ways that go beyond the mainframe to encompass a comprehensive, long-term IT strategy.
Digital transformation is about more than technology integration, maintenance, or modernization. Having the right MSP as a consultant and integration expert, along with the best technology vendor partnerships, can position a business to meet evolving business needs and opportunities in a global digital business landscape.