Mainframe Flip and Move: Legacy Rehosting on AWS with OpenFrame - TmaxSoft
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Mainframe Flip and Move: Legacy Rehosting on AWS with OpenFrame

Perhaps you’ve heard of a popular real estate trend called “flipping and moving.” Rather than demolishing an older home, the owners sell it with the caveat that the house must be moved. The eventual buyers haul these houses somewhere else and renovate them. The outcome is a house that’s almost like new.

What does this have to do with mainframes and legacy apps? Think about your mainframe. It’s been around for years. It’s had maintenance, patches, fixes, updates and more. The upshot is that it’s like an older home. It’s getting rundown and you are paying substantial sums (maybe even millions of dollars) to keep it going. And, all the apps and systems in it, just like plumbing and wiring in an old home for example, are struggling to support what you need in the modern world.

Today’s agile workloads are a challenge for your mainframe, just as being wired for security or as a smart home is a challenge for an older house. Users and employees expect high-performing frontends that work as smoothly as popular consumer apps like Tinder and Facebook. The digital drawing board is littered with great innovations that never went anywhere. And the cause is that there was no way to integrate it with a legacy mainframe app or an aging infrastructure that couldn’t deliver the support needed.

The good news is that there’s a cost-effective solution to an aging mainframe and its apps: rehosting. With TmaxSoft OpenFrame and Amazon Web Services (AWS), you can “flip” your mainframe so it runs like clockwork. Are you wondering how? Satisfy your curiosity by learning about rehosting, why the combined solution is unique and the best practices for implementation.

Rehosting with OpenFrame on AWS

Rehosting moves existing mainframe applications to x86 distributed systems. The migration starts with a source code analysis by TmaxSoft that sets the stage and uncovers performance improvement opportunities. TmaxSoft’s advanced automated migration tools move the code to a distributed environment. There is no reformatting required, and data and code remain unchanged, thereby retaining business logic and end-user experiences. An extensive set of tools is available to move mainframe data to an isolated database tier that supports industry-standard SQL databases.

When your distributed system is on AWS, you can automatically scale resources to match user demand and integrate with new AWS services like CloudWatch, RDS, S3 and EMR. After the migration to AWS is complete, you can access mainframe data in a relational datastore with existing data analytics tools. You also have the option of supporting mobile with presentation tools that address the application layer.

OpenFrame Differentiators

Rehosting options are available from several vendors. So, what sets OpenFrame apart from them and why should it be the backbone of your rehosting? OpenFrame has a unique value proposition with strong technical features.

OpenFrame provides COBOL and PL/1 compilers, but also works with other compilers like MF Cobol and Net Cobol. In addition to COBOL, C, and PL/1, OpenFrame rehosting support includes Assembler and Easytrieve Plus, solving the complexity of mixed code and the risks associated with piecemeal solutions.
OpenFrame supports VSAM, IMS-DB, and IDMS-DB without changing application source code. And, it supports relational databases such as Amazon RDS or Amazon Aurora. It enables advanced reporting of data that resides in IMS-DB and IDMS-DB using SQL access to data. And, OpenFrame is designed to handle large transaction volumes, as many as 100,000 MIPS (million instructions per second). This was done at a large global banking client.

Mainframe interoperability allows you to migrate application modules while still using the mainframe, limiting downtime. This is accomplished with Inter System Communication (ISC) features including Distributed Program Link (DPL) and Dynamic Transaction Routing, as well as communication via MQ and DB2 connect/client. Moreover, OpenFrame not only provides an IDE for maintaining and deploying your software, but it also supports the integration of current DevOps solutions that are in the market.

Simply put, rehosting with OpenFrame enables you to lift and shift applications and data to AWS with no reformatting, code changes or user impact. By following some best practices, this can be a really smooth process.

Best Practices for Legacy Migration

Your mainframe “flip” on AWS with OpenFrame will be smoother than most house flips, where halfway into the job, they discover a major structural issue. All you have to do is take the following steps:

  1. Inventory your systems and databases and analyze the results to determine what you should migrate. Rehosting projects have failed in the past because they did not take into account all the databases affected. Therefore, you need to know what you have and what you want to move before you embark on this project. TmaxSoft offers these services and can advise you from the start. At the end of this process, you will have a detailed project plan with future environment recommendations and identification of any potential gaps.
  2. Clean your source code and data with OpenFrame. This step often uncovers unused code and forks, helping reduce the size of the code base, which can reduce the time and effort to rehost. Validating your data at the bit level to ensure your data is clean is always a good practice for an initiative so critical to your business.
  3. Prepare the open system and migrate your resources. Don’t migrate everything all at once. Instead, choose one mainframe application and data for a first conversion as a test. Bring the remaining systems and databases over after you have identified any system anomalies.
  4. Test system and database performance. After the migration, run tests to see how well everything functions by staging use of the new system and databases by departments or functions. Test one or two production monthly cycles to validate results and measure performance. You should not turn off the old system right away; instead, wait for a comfortable period—this will vary—to make sure everything is operating to expectations. During this time, data is synchronized between the old and new systems. This is not real time synchronization. Mainframe files and database changes are updated daily. This way, you can switch over to the new systems and database completely

Home Sweet Home with Your Mainframe Flip

Your customers and employees expect a super-fast, highly personalized experience that resembles what they get on their mobile devices. On the front end, rehosting can also unlock the value of your mainframe apps by exposing them to web services for mobile and digital applications, transforming the customer experience. Behind the scenes, it creates an environment that dynamically scales based on business demand so that, even during peak processing, your end users experience the same maximum service and reliability.

Learn More About Rehosting

Thinking about rehosting? This guide has five good reasons to do it.

Paul Bobak is the Vice President, Technical Field Services at TmaxSoft. He has more than 30 years of IT and ISV senior management experience with global companies. At TmaxSoft, he has responsibility for pre- and post-sales support and services. Paul has a diverse mainframe, database, distributed and SOA technology background along with in-depth experience growing and managing teams in multi-platform enterprise-wide environments. He has consistently taken a consultative approach to solving client business challenges, while strategically aligning technology to support clients’ business objectives. Paul has a successful track record for hiring, motivating and retaining performance-driven teams and building a culture of doing what’s needed to ensure customer success. His leadership experience includes senior management roles at Legent, Oracle, Tibco and Netezza. He holds two degrees in Computer Science.