Today’s technology landscape is constantly evolving. Organizations that fail to adapt are at risk of growing obsolete. Although mainframe systems have served an important purpose since their inception in the 1950s, they have increasingly become liabilities, driving increased costs and limiting agility.

Many organizations have continued to rely on mainframe systems, fearing the costs and risks associated with modernization. Today, the scales are well past the tipping point, and the cost of not modernizing mainframe systems is generally far greater than the time, effort, and money required to make the transition.

Escalating Maintenance Costs

Mainframe systems have been the backbone of critical business operations for decades. Although they carry a well-deserved reputation for being reliable, operating costs have risen steadily in recent years, as vendors have increased MIPS charges to compensate for a shrinking customer base.

As the cost of cloud computing continues to plummet, the delta between mainframe operating costs and cloud subscription services continues to grow. Organizations running legacy systems will simply find it more and more difficult to justify the high cost of continued mainframe operations.

Learn more: Strategies for Reducing Mainframe MIPS

The Cost of Skilled Experts (If You Can Find Them)

The shortage of skilled experts has grown especially acute, as a generation of mainframe developers reaches retirement age. In fact, it’s estimated that around 60% of mainframe technology specialists are over the age of 50. As the mainframe labor shortage problem worsens, salaries will inevitably increase further, and organizations running on legacy technology will find themselves with fewer and fewer options.

Unfortunately, there is no new generation of mainframe experts stepping up to replace these retirees. It is relatively easy to hire developers with experience in modern object-oriented languages such as C# and Java, however, – and who are familiar with relational databases such as Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and similar platforms.

By converting legacy code such as COBOL to Java or C#, organizations can tap into a large pool of talented developers and take advantage of object-oriented programming and agile development practices. That means getting new innovations up and running faster, cheaper, and arguably better than would be possible with legacy technology.

Learn more: What about my COBOL programmers when migrating to Java?

The High Cost of Obsolescence

Above all, mainframe systems are poorly suited for integration with modern systems and architectures. Organizations that cling to legacy technology will find it increasingly challenging to integrate with modern applications, cloud services, and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. This lack of integration hampers innovation and prevents businesses from taking full advantage of new opportunities in the age of digital transformation and industry 4.0.

Ultimately, this hampers an organization’s ability to keep up with their more agile and innovative competitors. As rivals are pivoting quickly, responding rapidly to changing market demands and consumer preferences, technology laggards will find it increasingly difficult to maintain market share and sustain long-term profitability. They risk missing out on transformative opportunities that come with embracing the latest technological advancements.

Learn more:

Mainframe Modernization in Times of Crisis: Survive or Thrive? [Part 1]

Mainframe Modernization in Times of Crisis: Survive or Thrive? [Part 2]

Compliance and Regulatory Issues

As regulations and compliance requirements evolve, mainframe shops may struggle to keep up with ever-changing standards. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties and legal consequences. Modern systems are designed with compliance in mind, ensuring that businesses adhere to industry-specific regulations and safeguard data privacy.

While the cost of modernizing mainframe systems may seem daunting, the consequences of not doing so can be far more detrimental to an organization. Escalating maintenance expenses, security vulnerabilities, inefficiencies, and compatibility issues with emerging technologies hinder growth and innovation, leading to missed opportunities and compromised competitive advantage.

Forward-thinking organizations must recognize the hidden price of refusing mainframe modernization. By investing in up-to-date infrastructure, businesses can bolster security, increase operational efficiency, and position themselves to leverage the latest technologies, ultimately achieving sustained success in today's dynamic business environment.

Is your organization struggling with the high cost of running an outdated mainframe system? Astadia can work with you to assess your current environment, outline one or more potential paths forward, and help you move beyond the limitations of your mainframe systems. Contact us today to discuss your project.

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