Clerity Solutions Inc.has announced a consulting service designed to help organizations tackle the stumbling blocks often associated with mainframe migrations.
The Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois-based company is offering what it’s calling a methodological holistic approach to analyze options when performing migrations within a mainframe environment, as well as from that environment to alternative computing platforms.
The process deals specifically with Adabas Natural mainframe environments, based on Software AG’s database server, Adabas, implemented with its programming language, Natural.
The Clerity Migration and Modernization Analysis Process (MMAP) is a service offering built from the experience of more than 300 migration and modernization projects, and is designed to help organizations with the discovery and design phases of mainframe migrations, said Jeff Hacker, Clerity’s vice-president in charge of the Adabas Natural Modernization Practice.
“People rush into the design phase without adequately doing the discovery phase,” said Hacker.
There are multiple daunting options to choose in the areas of skills, software and infrastructure, often leading to decisions made for the wrong reasons, said Hacker.
What differentiates the MMAP, according to Hacker, is that it does not pre-define a target platform to which to migrate, unlike other vendors that push a platform because they specialize in particular tools.
Hacker said analyzing a mainframe environment is complicated by the fact that the chosen code has been written and maintained over many years, making the business logic often difficult to understand.
And, on the hardware infrastructure side, various metrics like performance must be considered besides just cost, he added.
Hacker is quick to note that mainframes are “extremely solid” platforms for repetitive high-transaction volumes, as in financial services, so the reasons for mainframe migrations will naturally vary.
For instance, some organizations want to continue running a mainframe environment because it suits their applications, but must move to another software due to lack of skills to support it, said Hacker. An Adabas Natural shop with dwindling skills in that programming language may have ample Cobol resources, in which case, migrating to Cobol works best.
Another reason is the rising costs of managing the infrastructure in the face of a shrinking footprint might make it more viable, depending on the application, to move to an alternative computing platform that wasn’t around about a decade ago, said Hacker.
Mergers and acquisitions is also a driver behind mainframe migration. An organization could end up with multiple mainframe environments, running on different codes, in which case it is best to run the entire setup on a single code.
There are numerous complexities that must be managed during mainframe migrations like changing programming languages, said Richard Ptak, principal analyst, with Ptak, Noel & Associates.
When moving to a new code base, debugging and testing is necessary to ensure the new version runs without errors, said Ptak.
“Code is not self-documented and unless you have rigorous processes and procedures for updated changes, you’ll have changes that are not documented,” he said.
Moving databases and applications, too, is frequently an expensive and complex task “because you have tables and relationships set up and linkages that get disrupted,” said Ptak.
In general, he said, migrating from one environment to another requires a fair bit of planning and “understanding that you have to maintain two parallel systems, keep them in synch until you have totally migrated off the old system,” said Ptak.
A service by IBM, for instance, said Ptak, subsidizes organizations moving new workloads onto the mainframe.
The mainframe remains a highly attractive platform for its high security and transaction-intensive applications, evidenced by the fact that workloads and applications continue to be migrated onto the mainframe, said Ptak.
And, billions of dollars is spent by the likes of IBM Corp., CA Inc. and BMC Software Inc. as well as smaller vendors to develop software that runs on mainframes, noted Ptak.
It’s a misconception to say the mainframe isn’t new or modern, he said. “The configuration, the way it handles the applications, tools, software, all that is running on the mainframe and available today make it very, very contemporary,” said Ptak.