Enabling Innovation: From Discovery to Software Defined Mainframe

11 March 2020

In a previous blog, I talked about the initial steps necessary for any successful modernization project. The process of discovering, or perhaps re-discovering all the technological component and interfaces of an application are critical. This process helps you understand the scope of what you have to migrate and helps define strategies to do the actual relocation of the application. I don’t think there are many organizations that go through this step that aren’t a bit surprised to find all the things that have slipped into their application portfolio over the decades. They may discover programs written in long-lost languages, files they had completely forgotten about or interfaces to internal or external systems hidden by the ravages to time.

LzLabs and its delivery partners use the information obtained during the initial LzDiscover phase to map out a migration strategy that leverages the strength of the approach taken by the Software Defined Mainframe (SDM). The goal of LzEnable, the second phase of a customer journey is twofold. Firstly, it proves to you the viability of the SDM to run the application in question. Secondly it gives you an application that can be immediately placed into production. Once this phase is complete companies can begin to take advantage of the innovation enabled by a modern Linux or cloud deployment model. Infrastructure modernization options can be used to split the application up in a way that can leverage distributed models rather than the traditional scale-up deployment model of the mainframe.

Mainframe Programs to DevOps Toolchains

While the source code is not necessary for programs to be migrated to the SDM, many organizations are going to need this to provide continued maintenance or enhancements to these systems. Once through an LzEnable step, organizations can not only maintain these migrated COBOL or PL/1 applications but can even convert key programs to Java if desired and they can continue to interoperate seamlessly with the migrated mainframe binaries. Consequently, these legacy mainframe programs can be incorporated in an organization’s existing devops tool chains and maintain or enhance them the same way the rest of their modern development staff works on newly developed programs. Our goal is to bring your existing mainframe legacy programs to your current devops tool chains and processes and not try and bring all those tools and processes to the mainframe!

All mainframe relational data associated with a migrated mainframe application is moved to the open source based PostGreSQL DBMS platform. As we’ve discussed in the past, the data is still available to legacy programs in EBCDIC format but is now available to modern data analytics tools you may already be using on other recently developed applications. You don’t have to buy any new tools, deploy analytics tools on the mainframe, or even go through the process of unloading and transmitting this mainframe application data to your current analytics world – the data is already there! It’s in PostGeSQL on Linux, free to be used in any innovative way you can think!

Running Mission-Critical Applications in Linux

Infrastructure modernization options, modern devops practices and data analytics solution are all now available to an organization having completed the LzEnable step. These projects are not meant to be simple science projects, but at the same time an organization becomes familiar with the SDM and what it means to run these mission critical applications in a Linux world, they are actually creating a production environment to run this application when complete. This step is more than a simple proof-of-concept, although it definitely proves your application can successfully run in a modern post-mainframe world. Value is incrementally obtained after every phase of the customer journey with LzLabs.




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Mainframe Migration: A Cultural Change as Much as a Technical One

When embarking on a mainframe migration project, organizations often focus on the technical challenges likely to arise during the course of such a transformational move. However, with a competent migration partner and diligent discovery process, the technical hurdles are more easily overcome.

Mainframe Migration: A Cultural Change as Much as a Technical One white paperIn this white paper, Markus Tschumper, Head of General IT Services at Swisscom, argues that organizations would be better-served focusing on the cultural change requirements of such a move. Focusing on the migration approach of your team, and key leading members of it, typically requires more management time but greatly increases your chance of success.

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