With IT environments changing at light speed, accelerated by the impact of lockdowns and associated sudden changes in consumer behaviour, it’s a good time to consider whether your mainframe strategy is still aligned to your business goals. A primary question many businesses in the process of digital transformation need to ask themselves is: should you migrate your mainframe to the cloud system, or should you rather invest your capital in upgrading your mainframe? Or could the answer lie somewhere in the middle?
Stephen Bottger, Executive: DevOps Professional Services at Altron Systems Integration says, “As more businesses migrate to cloud, mainframe skills are becoming harder to source and the mainframe environment – if not appropriately managed – can present a financial and operational risk.”
Bottger says businesses need to continually assess whether their infrastructure helps or hinders them in staying relevant and delivering across business goals, particularly given the fast-changing and unpredictable business environment in a post-Covid-19 world.
In choosing whether to upgrade a mainframe service or migrate to the cloud, Bottger says there are several factors to consider. For instance, the cost of software licences and maintenance can be high. Companies need to consider whether their systems will be integrated with cloud-native applications and the compounding effect (and cost) of greater complexity and adaptation.
"A modernised mainframe can offer unrivalled power and security – but traditional mainframes require difficult-to-find expert skills and are viewed negatively as old technology," says Bottger.
Culture change and organisational readiness for migration to a more agile and develops operating model should be considered. On the other hand, Bottger says companies also need to evaluate their innovation appetite, and constraints to innovation, while operating a complex bulky mainframe environment.
Ultimately, Bottger advises that the decision to migrate to cloud platforms, or to upgrade existing mainframe infrastructure – or to combine both with a hybrid solution – should depend on organisation goals, operating environment, and business strategy. "The right strategy will help companies to lower costs, increase agility and innovation, and ultimately ensure they stay competitive," he says.
At Altron Systems Integration, Bottger says every client is different, but all of them have share similar basic needs from a mainframe solution. That is to reduce their cost to income ratio and minimise risk whilst aligning to their long-term vision and strategy and drive transformation.
But, Bottger advices to watch out for solutions providers who are tied to one brand (e.g. resellers of Microsoft and AWS products). "As Altron Systems Integration is partner agnostic, we offer end-to-end modernisation solutions that address specific requirements and pain points. By being agnostic we can implement the best solution for each problem without veering it in any specific direction. If you are going to get advice, always get a second opinion from an agnostic service provider," concludes Bottger.