Migration, Modernization and Mainframes: Your Legacy System

For decades, organizations have relied on Mainframes to run operations. Moreover, while better solutions exist, an “if it is not broke, don’t fix it” mentality has often surrounded Mainframes. However, with modernization inevitable, it is time to choose a modern platform. Here, we look at the challenges of moving to a modern platform and help you identify the solution that will work best for your business.

Using a modernized core system will make it easier to design and deliver new products more quickly. It will also be simpler for IT, as they will not have to perform as much maintenance and can use standardized components so less code writing will be needed. In a recent survey of insurance firms conducted by BT Global Services, researchers reported that although legacy systems were affecting the ability of insurance firms to generate new business, only 42% said they would rather adopt new systems. Only some 37% said they planned to upgrade old systems.

Users who opt for modernization benefit from advantageous tools such as XML-based web services, middleware technology, and portal frameworks. A much larger workforce of skilled programmers are available, and the cost of these services are dramatically less than the expense of the few available mainframe programmers and administrators.

One drawback that does arise pertains to security. Mainframe password protocols can make it difficult to change passwords or to have more than one password. Data protection is a growing concern among companies, so it is advisable to look into software options that keep sensitive business information protected. Increased regulation in many industries and an emphasis on corporate governance also makes an impact on data storage. Many authorities insist data be kept in a certain way or that it is available for inspection within a given timescale.

Although not all IT shops will find themselves relying on individuals like a COBOL programming specialist, there are plenty of personnel problems associated with legacy systems. Users can end up dependent on a small number of older staff to maintain their systems, people who inevitably move on or retire, taking their knowledge with them. Service companies may be able to fill the gap, but ultimately they too are challenged to find experts with all the right skills.

Because no legacy operating system can go on forever, it is important to know when to upgrade, and how it will benefit your business. Speak with an experienced vendor who knows the ins and outs of migrations, and take all factors into consideration, like cost and time. However, in the end, remember that modernization is the future of the industry, and the future is here.