50 years later: from mainframe to modernization


Complex business problems with practical IT solutions

50 years later: from mainframe to modernization

Next month marks 50 years since IBM announced its System/360 line of mainframes. The IBM® System/360 platform was designed to enable users to migrate applications and peripherals from smaller to larger systems without reprogramming as their capacity needs changed.

There may be few applications running in production today that were originally designed for the System/360. However, there are still many mainframe-hosted applications supporting critical ‘run the business’ operational requirements such as order taking, payroll processing and inventory management.

Such systems of record were often developed over decades, during which time they accumulated massive amounts of valuable business logic and data. Over the years, these systems are likely to have collected a substantial amount of ‘software bloat’ in the form of redundant code and utilities, data duplication and dead code too.

Today’s market demands highly focused, personalized and data intensive customer experiences. If your organization is encumbered with a legacy environment you may need to evolve and slim down bloated applications to remain relevant. But with the number of modernization strategies available, which path forward is best for you?

Assessing your options

If you need to enhance agility and respond rapidly to market demands, alternatives such as SOA wrapping and automated code conversation may not fully resolve your legacy liabilities. Neither approach tackles the root causes of code proliferation and redundancy – they mainly move old problems to new platforms.

Custom off the shelf (COTS) solutions may be appropriate if you have applications with commodity functionality. However COTS implementations can take five or more years if your organization has significant global operations and are only appropriate if you are prepared to change your business processes to fit a package.

Replacing your legacy applications with net-new greenfield development may be tempting, however complete rewrites often end up over budget and seldom stick to schedule. Lack of full understanding of an application’s present case can blow your business case and result in major scope creep.

For those legacy applications that differentiate your business, re-architecture can provide a compelling alternative that preserves your unique competitive differentiation while shedding software bloat, all on a nimble new technology framework. Application re-architecture harvests the intellectual property (IP) from your existing environment and refactors it into a well-structured modern system that provides high service levels, low operational costs on agile platform to address your business needs.

When oil and gas software and data solutions leader, P2 Energy (P2E) wanted to modernize its functionally rich but technology-outdated application to better meet market requirements it selected a re-architecture approach with Dell instead of rewriting. This project reduced lines of code from 2 million lines of RPG/Progress to 400,000 lines of Java, a dramatic 80 percent reduction.

The pace of change keeps accelerating

For custom mainframe applications, clearly ‘one size does not fits all’ when it comes to modernization. In addition to supporting cross platform compatibility as afforded on the System/360, today’s applications need to seamlessly leverage of ‘as a service’ models to scale on demand and support rapidly changing business requirements – all with competitive price performance.

Dell offers many options to transform rigid legacy systems into agile application environments. You can watch this video to gain a brief overview of our end-to-end application modernization solutions.








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