Many mainframe customers have come to realize cloud-based systems can meet or even exceed the performance, reliability, and security they expect from their legacy mainframe systems.

Mainframe customers are also experiencing an increasingly uncomfortable squeeze, as multiple constraints converge to create a perfect storm. First, there is the shrinking pool of experienced mainframe professionals. As very few new graduates are entering that job market, competitionfor the remaining talent is intensifying.

At the same time, mainframe operating costs are continuing to rise, in sharp contrast to newer cloud-based alternatives. Customers who migrate their mainframe systems to cloud are routinely achieving cost savings of 60-80%, with some customers achieving evengreater savings.

Additionally, there are the opportunity costs associated with the use of legacy technology. Simply put, mainframe technology makes it harder to integrate with distributed systems. Legacy systems offer limited agility when compared to modern platforms.

To top it all off, many mainframe shops are faced with end-of-life scenarios. In July of 2017, for example, IBM announced their scheduled end of life for the z14 family of mainframes, withdrawing the product from marketing as of June 30, 2021. And just last year, 21st Century Software Technologies announced a licensing agreement to acquire the source code for IBM’s z/VSE operating system, signaling that IBM intends to discontinue support for z/VSE.

Fully automated migration is now a reality, tilting the equation even further in favor of migrating to the cloud.

Benefits of Azure for IBM Mainframe Migration

Azure has been a platform of choice for many IBM shops as they consider making the move. Microsoft has invested heavily in building out the resources needed to support mainframe workloads.

The Azure platform is highly scalable and secure, – so much so that The United States Air Force selected it to host a mission critical maintenance & logistics system serving over 260,000 users around the globe.

The United States Air Force engaged Astadia to lead that mainframe modernization project, delivering a highly successful result that many thought was impossible.

Microsoft Azure also supports application innovation, opening the door to a wider pool of developers and support personnel. Cloud native services provide opportunities for additional innovation, cost savings, and flexibility. Azure makes it easy to probation new services and hostapplications using a simple web-based portal. Adding storage resources orcomputing capacity, for example, can be done in mere minutes, without long-term contracts or commitments.

Azure offers an array of options to help organizations replicate or exceed the performance of their formerly mainframe-based applications. Compute and storage can be provisioned as needed, so a CPU-intensive application can benefit from a higher CPU/IO ratio, for example.

Planning Your IBM Mainframe to Azure Migration

Astadia has been partnering with organizations on their mainframe modernization projects for over three decades. No two projects are exactly the same, so we begin each engagement with adetailed assessment of the legacy mainframe environment. We consider this in the context of the primary business objectives and constraints. Then we workwith our clients to develop the approach that will best serve them in achieving those goals.

Strategies include replatforming (“lift and shift”), refactoring, rewriting applications, or replacing selected applications with commercially available software.

Each approach presents its own unique challenges. A typical mainframe modernization project is a complex undertaking that requires careful management of the overall process, budgets and timelines.

Customers must consider whether or not they want to change their user interface, which programming languages and database platforms to use, and what to do with existing applications. In many cases, environmental software for job scheduling, printing, and batch processing can be retired or replaced with modern cloud-native alternatives.

While most organizations prefer to maintain their investments in mission critical applications, ancillary applications may be candidates for replacement by commercially available alternatives. The complexity of mainframe systems calls for a thorough assessment of these details, in the context of an organization’s primary goals and constraints.

FastTrack: Automated Mainframe to Cloud Migration

Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate much of the complexity and risk that has historically been associated with mainframe modernization projects. In 2021, Astadia introduced FastTrack: a collection of tools that offer a 100% automated migration process.

Astadia FastTrack includes:

  • Code Migration: FastTrack’s code migration tools modernize applications to fit within a modern technology stack. The refactored applications run natively on the target platform, fully accessible within the Azure ecosystem. All future maintenance happens in the target environment using modern DevOps tools.
  • Database Migration: FastTrack enables an iterative migration and re-design process that can incorporate schema changes as part of the database migration process. This makes it possible to take advantage of relational database technology, for example, even where corresponding mainframe data structures lack such capabilities. Because the process is fully automated, the migration team is free to run the same database migration multiple times before eventually settling on a target database design.
  • Functional and Performance Testing: FastTrack develops automated test scripts using actual user activity, then executes those scripts in the target environment. This process can be repeated as many times as desired, ensuring functional equivalence and stress-testing the system to guarantee adequate performance.
  • Data Validation: Source and target databases are compared, taking into account any schema changes designed as part of the migration process. After user scripts are executed, databases can be compared further to fully validate the data.

FastTrack performs these four functions in full alignment with one another. Changes to the database schema, for example, automatically impact the code transformation process and test automation. This eliminates the need for manual changes to the target system. The various tools that comprise FastTrack are integrated into a single workstream, so the processes of making changes, re-running data transfers, recording new test scenarios, replaying those tests in the target system, and validating the results can be performed quickly and efficiently.

This is what makes the FastTrack such a game-changing innovation. These four components, working together, ensure that each change implemented as part of the migration process is automatically and accurately implemented across every other stage of the project. Highly automated regression testing can then be performed as many times as is necessary to build complete confidence that the new system will behave in a functionally equivalent manner relative to the legacy system.

Learn More About IBM Mainframe to Azure Migration

To help IBM customers learn more about cloud migration, Astadia recently published our IBM Mainframe to Microsoft Azure Reference Architecture. It’s available as a free download, offering a thorough overview of the options and considerations involved with IBM to Azure migration.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Related news

Related white papers:

Refactoring IBM Mainframes to Microsoft Azure

How to migrate IBM mainframes to Microsoft Azure using a refactoring approach.

Download white paper
Refactoring IBM Mainframes to Microsoft Azure

Let's Talk

Get in touch with our experts and find out how Astadia's range of tools and experience can support your team.

contact us now