Steps in Migrating Mainframe Apps to the Cloud

Migrating Mainframe Apps

The main frame is widely used globally by top airline companies, banks, retailers, health and insurance companies. For more than seven decades, the mainframe is still evolving with modern models able to offer an array of solutions. Despite its resiliency and top-notch security features, a lot of companies are still dealing with various core IT infrastructure challenges. Application experts advise the best remedy is to move the entire IT environment to the cloud. Since the cloud may not offer every workload solution required, a hybrid multi-cloud strategy will offer the best solutions.

Current use status of the mainframe

Data by Microsoft shows the mainframe today is still a top choice for major companies around the world. Although cloud native deployment is currently the norm, major enterprises are choosing to use the mainframe as the hub for critical business logic and data.

  • Banks spend 80% of their IT budget or over $300 million annually for maintaining legacy technology.
  • 71% of the Fortune 500 companies are still using the mainframe.
  • About 70% of transactions by banks globally are processed through mainframe applications that were created over five decades ago.
  • 72% of top retailers globally use the mainframe
  • 100% of top 10 insurers globally store data and process transactions on the mainframe
  • 80% of data generated by major enterprises is stored in the mainframe

It is the best time for enterprises to consider implementing mainframe application modernization and migrating their IT operations to the cloud. There are key strategic elements that need consideration when implementing a mainframe modernization strategy.

  • Modernization of applications: The processes and priorities to follow
  • Modernization of DevOps chain: Creating a lean, agile DevOps pipeline
  • Modernization of infrastructure: Adopting of latest features to get maximum benefits
  • Modernization of data access: For real-time insights from fresh data

Steps for successful mainframe application migration

Understand the company’s applications portfolio

Implement an application analysis to understand what applications the organization has, their components, and their relationships. The aim is to ensure the process works effectively both currently and in the future. The organization may have all or some of these types of applications.

  • Development, testing, and quality assurance applications
  • Main programming software such as COBOL
  • Secondary programming software
  • App modernization tools
  • Data infrastructure applications
  • Disaster recovery and production apps
  • CRM, job scheduler, and batch applications
  • User interface/online applications
  • Data analysis and report generation applications

Decide which cloud to move to

There is a wide range of cloud services an organization can choose from. To avoid confusion or to choose a limiting cloud, it is best to outsource IT operations during the process. They will offer expert advice and provide the technical knowledge required for a flawless migration process.

Each cloud service has unique requirements that must be fulfilled before and after migration. Most of the requirements may involve developing unique codes, security processes, and regulatory needs, which require expert engagement. It is necessary to understand the support environment in the target cloud.

Have in place problem mitigation procedures beforehand

After migration, the organization needs to perform post-migration application testing, which might take too long to complete. To avoid affecting business operations, the management should be ready to deal with testing problems in advance. One of the best solutions is to leverage automated testing solutions from the beginning of the process.

The mainframe application modernization partner should have all the tools required to identify problems and offer real-time solutions throughout the process. Their bug identification and correction strategies should align with the company processes. Automated testing processes should run in parallel throughout the migration process. That means all testing scripts should be prepared and launched in advance, although the organization can leverage existing testing processes and assets.

Get ready to migrate

The application migration process is not an IT task only, but the entire organization needs to be involved. Mainframe applications are a critical asset to an organization and affect nearly every business process across the company. The migration team should not limit themselves to IT experts and app developers only. Every stakeholder should be brought on board.

Having support from all stakeholders is crucial to the success of this process. This includes support from the executive, department managers, vendors, and cloud services. It is necessary to know who is responsible for what process from the start to the end. All IT resources required should be in place, and everyone involved should be mobilized and provided with all necessary resources.

Create a migration plan

Planning for migration requires the core team to create the base infrastructure for the target cloud platform. The platform features and tools must align with the company’s needs. The key issues to consider are

  • System Security
  • Performance speed
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Possibility of process automation
  • Flexibility in user account management
  • System scalability and availability
  • Disaster mitigation and recovery strategy
  • Tools for networking, archiving, and operations

The team should ensure they have the right tools for application replication and translating the source code from the mainframe to the cloud. There might be licensing considerations to make and risk mitigation processes.

Implement the migration

Migration implementation follows a systematic procedure that ensures the entire process is smooth.

Setting up the tools for migration

These tools are set on the base infrastructure of the target platform to ensure the codes and access controls are right.

Migrating the code

Automated code migration is the best strategy to use. The batching, configuration and backup processes are assisted by the native tools in the cloud.

Do the testing process

Testing is a continuous process that ensures the company system does not experience challenges. The team needs to implement automated testing processes.

Perform training procedures

After migration, the applications will have new patterns that end users might not be conversant with. Training helps improve user experience.

Roll out the migrated applications

This phase requires the release of the application for use after all processes are complete.


The mainframe provides organizations with solutions required for smooth running. It can manage big data and process millions of transactions daily. There are application challenges often recorded when using the mainframe. The solution to the challenges is to migrate them to the cloud through a systematic migration process. The organization gains a wide range of benefits, such as saving costs, automated testing, and updating of applications. It achieves higher operational flexibility, scalability, mobility, and security.

Hi, I'm Raj Hirvate and I am a Tech Blogger from India. I like to post about technology and product reviews to the readers of my blog. Apart from blogging i'm a big Anime fan I Love Watching Naruto, One piece and Death Note.

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