Why Keep Critical Apps on the Mainframe?

We asked Craig Mullins of Mullins Consulting, Inc. why only a small percentage of mainframe users, who plan to modernize, are looking to move all of their applications off the mainframe.

The vast majority of enterprise data is stored on the mainframe

Jennifer Henderson:

Hey everyone. This is Jennifer from GT Software, and I wanted to share with you a clip from one of our recent webinars with Craig Mullins of Mullins Consulting, Incorporated. This is where I asked Craig about a recent mainframe modernization survey that GT Software did where we found out that only 16% of the respondents plan to move all of their applications off the mainframe. And so I asked Craig, “Why do you think more people aren’t planning to move everything off the mainframe?”

Craig Mullins:

Even if it could be migrated to the cloud, and some of it is unlikely to ever go, mainframes handle a large proportion of the world’s IT workload, including 80% of credit card processing and 71% of the world’s Fortune 500 companies use mainframes. So expecting all of this to move to the cloud is unrealistic, at least in the short term. Think about all the stuff that runs on just your mainframe. Your transactions, your batch jobs, your ETL, your movement, your analytical applications. The public cloud is unlikely to take on all computing activity because of data gravity. Data gravity is this idea that data remains where it is and the applications and services are attracted to and use that data. The mainframe houses a ton of enterprise data. The vast majority of enterprise data at large organizations is managed by and controlled on the mainframe. Moving data is tricky, time-consuming and complex. Moving large quantities of enterprise data stored on premises over the internet to a cloud service provider is even more tricky and complex.

So you get an idea why all that data is just not going to be moved. At least not in the next two to three years, if ever. So what we need is an IT architecture that embraces the cloud, but also on premises workloads, including the mainframe. And that means with data gravity, the mainframe attracts apps and workloads to it. You know, I’m not talking about necessarily a new COBOL app, but an app that is going to access data on the mainframe through APIs and newer means and REST services, what have you. That brings me to the hybrid multi-cloud. And the hybrid multi-cloud is really what needs to be the IT strategy of choice moving forward. We need to understand the challenges that are involved in integrating, managing, and utilizing this complex heterogeneous system of different platforms and technologies. You can’t just abandon mission critical workloads because your business relies on them.

And if you’re going to run your business, you have to have those mission critical workloads. Some of them, maybe you can migrate to the public or private clouds. In other cases, your organization’s going to be better served by modernizing and refactoring applications without having to rely on wholesale recoding on another platform. So this hybrid multi-cloud approach means that you embrace multiple platforms, both remote non premises and you build practices and procedures that secure, manage and deliver services across this hybrid multi-cloud. Meaning we include the things we’re doing to keep our mainframes running today. We augment them with newer capabilities. We integrate them with cloud management capabilities. Because the bottom line is your customers don’t care about the technology you use. They just expect to be able to access your systems easily and for their data to be protected and secure. So that needs to be your goal.