Are you better off staying with your mainframe?

March 25, 2016

COBOL, Mainframe Migration, Legacy, Asysco, AMT COBOL

It’s been running your mission critical systems for 15+ years (maybe 30+…) but now may be the time to consider your options.

With the amount of time and effort invested into mainframe applications, some of you read the title and without question answered: Yes. Why wouldn’t you be? It is easier to take the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach and that’s understandable. You’ve spent years making these systems work exactly how you want them to and just because technology is evolving at a rapid rate why should you have to change something that’s working?

According to Richard Branson, in today’s market, “If you aren’t innovating, you are going backwards.” The problem for mainframe users is that their suppliers know this and their solution is to raise costs. If you invest more money into your mainframe, it satisfies your psychological need to solve the innovation problem and stops you from ‘breaking up’ with your mainframe. This technique has worked up until the last 10 years, where technology has advanced at such a rapid rate that competitors now enter the market quicker with more disruption.

So let’s look at the real mainframe issues:

  • Availability: outages on mainframes often last longer than 2 hours. Think about the impact that could have on your business.
  • Skill gap: with COBOL programmers reaching retirement age and few new programmers being trained, the cost of employment will continue to increase.
  • Cost: have you been forced to upgrade your system? How much have your maintenance costs (or MIPS usage) increased  over the lifetime of your system?
  • Flexibility: Are your innovative projects pushed back due to lack of budget? Are you having trouble with integration to mobile apps and web services?

The answer to the question “are you better off staying with your mainframe?” really depends on your specific situation. With the amount of time and money invested into your mainframe, the decision of whether to stay or go has become an emotional and complicated one. But it shouldn’t be. If you consider all of the factors and know your options then you can either chose for a suitable alternative or stay on your mainframe. If you can’t meet your business demands due to lack of flexibility, then yes you may want to explore your options. If you are running a generic backend application with little development needed, then you may want to stay with your mainframe, of course you may get a different answer depending on how heavily you factor in opportunity cost….

Whatever your conclusion may be, it might be worthwhile to check out this free white paper.