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Overview

This US-based auto parts retailer and automotive service center sought to modernize their legacy mainframe systems and migrate their COBOL-based applications to the AWS Cloud. Personnel at over 900 stores rely upon these systems for day-to-day operations, so leaders at the company placed a high priority on maintaining high availability throughout the migration process.

Like many companies operating legacy mainframe systems, this retailer was seeking to reduce operating costs and lay a foundation for digital transformation initiatives to support growth and innovation. In addition, they were concerned about the diminishing availability of experienced mainframe systems programmers to maintain and improve their existing applications.

Company leaders chose Astadia to help them replatform their IBM z/OS mainframe to AWS. Their decision was based on Astadia’s strong leadership position in legacy modernization and an outstanding track record in mainframe-to-cloud migrations.

Challenge

This automotive retailer had been running their mission-critical operations on an IBM z12 mainframe since the early 1980s, and most of their applications dated back nearly four decades. The company had limited visibility to the detailed workings of their mainframe systems. Some applications were insufficiently documented, and company leaders recognized that they needed to begin this project by performing a comprehensive review and assessment of their mainframe environment.

The company’s IBM z/OS mainframe was serving the operational requirements of over 900 stores nationwide, including inventory management, pricing, vehicle identification, service bay management, payroll, mechanics’ commissions, and point-of-sale systems. The landscape incorporated numerous peripherals as well; each store was equipped with a mix of bar-code printers, handheld scanners, printers, and more. Operation of the system was outsourced to a third-party, which also contributed to increased costs.

Company leaders set out to gain a more thorough understanding of their current mainframe environment, address any deficiencies proactively, and replatform the entire system to the cloud. Through that process, they sought to lower their operating costs, improve performance, and lay the groundwork for future digital transformation initiatives.

Solution

This client chose Astadia because of its proven track record of successful mainframe modernization projects and its deep bench of mainframe-to-cloud migration experts. They needed a partner who could address the full scope of work necessary to complete this project; from discovery and analysis through implementation, DevOps, testing, and go-live support.

The project began with a thorough discovery process, including an inventory of existing applications and documentation, identification of dependencies, and a mapping of business processes and requirements to existing IT assets. During this phase, the project team uncovered several unexpected conditions resulting from code changes made years earlier, and was able to proactively address those issues to improve and streamline the system’s application code.  

This first phase of the project required extensive discovery, documentation, and knowledge transfer. Through that process, IT leaders of the company came to a better understanding of their existing landscape. As a result, they were well-positioned to drive forward with a clear modernization strategy.

Following that initial phase, Astadia worked with the customer to execute on the migration plan, transitioning the client’s existing applications to Micro Focus COBOL and replatforming their systems to AWS. Astadia designed a DevOps pipeline, deploying Astadia’s proprietary development and test automation tools to improve the client’s IT agility and application stability.

Results

For this project, the discovery process was especially critical, given the client’s limited visibility into their existing code base. As the initial discovery phase drew to a close, IT leaders in the client organization were able to develop a clear picture of their system landscape and how it operated. That was a critical first step toward streamlining and rationalizing this retailer’s applications so that the organization could grow and innovate in the coming years.

As part of this project, Astadia designed and implemented a DevOps pipeline to support agile development at this retailer. In the past, the process for deploying code changes took an average of three days to complete. With Astadia’s proprietary toolset and the automated testing processes that were implemented, the total time was reduced to about one hour.

Security standards were also streamlined. The client was able to move from a siloed approach in which mainframe and distributed systems were handled separately, to a single unified security process.

With the transition to a modern cloud platform, the company will benefit from increased agility, improved performance, and reduced operating costs for years to come. The company now has a digital platform upon which to build new innovations that can drive business growth and lower costs. Company leaders plan to engage Astadia for managed services as well, which will further support the organization’s ongoing vision for agility and excellence in IT operations.