Mainframe modernization is a significant undertaking for any organization. The process involves transitioning from legacy systems to a modern IT infrastructure, often requiring complex code conversion, data migration, and rigorous testing. As mainframes host mission-critical applications, it's essential to ensure that the modernization process is accurate, efficient, and causes minimal disruption to business operations. This is where automated migration and testing tools come in. They play a vital role in simplifying the modernization process and reducing associated risks.


The Art and the Science of Mainframe Assessment

Every mainframe modernization project should begin with a clear understanding of the legacy landscape. A thorough mainframe assessment is a combination of art and science. Automation tools provide a clear starting point, analyzing millions of lines of code to map the dependencies and relationships that are critical to smoothly operating applications.  

The mainframe assessment process should reveal any anomalies that could impact your modernization project, for example, use of third-party utilities and obsolete code. Automation tools provide this thorough up-front analysis. Mainframe modernization experts can then use that information to map out the potential paths forward and present you with one or more recommended approaches.


Automated Legacy Code Conversion

Legacy systems often have millions of lines of code written in procedural languages like COBOL or Natural. To take full advantage of modernization while preserving their investments in existing applications, most organizations choose to convert their legacy code to modern object-oriented languages such as Java or C#. Manually rewriting this code is time-consuming, costly, and prone to errors.

Automated code conversion tools can help overcome these challenges by analyzing mainframe applications and converting the code to run on modern platforms. The primary goal is generally to preserve each application's original functionality while converting it to a modern language, ensuring the integrity of the business logic. The goal of functional equivalence in the refactored application reduces the impact on existing end-user business operations.


Automated Database Migration

Mainframe database migration is often complicated by the fact that many legacy systems run on non-relational datastores. Schemas and data types often run counter to modern standards, making it difficult to map data from a mainframe database to a modern relational model. Read-write operations embedded in application code must also be adapted to address the differences between the old and new database structures.

Automated data migration tools can speed the process of moving data from the mainframe to cloud or on-premise databases. Nevertheless, it’s important to execute the data migration process in conjunction with a good code conversion tool. By synchronizing database changes with code changes, you can substantially reduce the need for manual effort while reducing risk at the same time.


Mainframe Modernization & Test Automation

Testing is a critical part of any mainframe modernization project. Ensuring that migrated applications work as expected on the new platform is paramount to the success of the modernization initiative.

Given the complexity and volume of mainframe applications, manual testing can be a herculean task. It can significantly lengthen the modernization timeline and increase costs. Manual testing is also susceptible to human error, which can lead to undetected bugs and performance issues.

Automated testing tools can help overcome these challenges, performing a variety of tests at a much faster rate than manual testing. They can also provide more consistent and reliable results, improving the quality of the migrated applications.

Astadia’s TestMatch captures real-world user activity and replays user actions on the target system. Any deviations are flagged for investigation and resolution. Likewise, DataMatch validates the functional equivalence of the new system to the old one by validating the data in the target system against the source. TestMatch performs both functional testing and performance tests, ensuring that the migrated mainframe applications will perform as well as the old system or better.

Acting in tandem with each other, and withour CodeTurn and DataTurn migration tools, these tools offer a complete suite that covers your end-to-end migration needs. Together, these four tools comprise Astadia’s FastTrack Platform, which delivers fully automated code conversion, database migration, and testing in a single package.

The road to mainframe modernization can be challenging, but the benefits are well worth it. By leveraging automated migration and testing tools, your organization can reduce the time, cost, and risk associated with modernization. These tools ensure that migrated applications retain their original functionality, perform efficiently on modern platforms, and deliver improved user experiences. Therefore, they play acrucial role in successful mainframe modernization projects and should be considered as essential components in an organization's modernization toolkit.

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