If you’re reviewing your mainframe modernization strategy options, you might have heard of the practice of cloud repatriation, in which companies are moving away from public cloud investments and returning to the technologies they’ve used before, often bringing on-premises workloads back online in the process.
For companies undergoing costly, uncertain mainframe modernization and migration challenges or attempting to build viable mainframe modernization strategies, the underlying message from this trend is clear – it might not be wise to leap feet-first into the cloud as a mainframe replacement, especially when others are taking a step back.
But if your mainframe software is going End of Support (EOS) and the vendor is pushing an upgrade, what else can you do?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
By definition, the practice of mainframe modernization is a lot more delicate than lift-and-shift migration. It might involve piece-by-piece reconstruction or refactoring of certain mainframe apps, the data they hold, or the workloads they run, with aspects of the old functionality often landing in some kind of cloud environment. The process also could require building cloud-connected workloads into the existing mainframe infrastructure through practices like container-based deployment. Carrying out such a task tends to be costly – often well beyond initial projections – and completing it can take years, particularly if the organization doesn’t have access to the right talent and knowledge base at the start.
With third-party software maintenance (TPSM) gaining visibility, many companies have also simply begun using their current mainframe software indefinitely, even if the OEM has stopped supporting it.
Those high-level paths represent numerous options to explore for the IT and business stakeholders on the ground. However, with a growing number of formerly mainframe-dependent companies looking to repatriate, mitigate, or generally roll back their cloud investments, the question becomes how valuable could a little more time on the clock be for a company reassessing its roadmap?
This would allow for time to follow through on decisions or create better plans. It could likewise help companies avoid the trap of overcommitting on cloud strategy, which is the reason they end up needing to repatriate in the first place.
No matter which path you choose, it might seem that upgrading on-premises mainframe software is also a necessary part of the plan.
Support usually carries close links to the upgrade cycle. In some cases, companies essentially update their software for the right to be able to continue raising tickets with the OEM. With the added trouble unwanted upgrades can cause in such delicate IT ecosystems, companies with mainframes are better off considering other options.
There are plenty of stats out there proving just how much life the long-serving mainframe has left in it. In fields like banking, 92 of 100 global top performers rely on optimized mainframe technology to facilitate critical transactions. Mainframes are crucial for industries that can’t tolerate outages thanks to their inherent redundancy and unbeatable uptime rates. And they house middleware that can touch every single aspect of a business’s operation, from the production floor to the showroom to the business office.
But it’s also clear many mainframes holding modern enterprise operations together need added attention to provide value at the level they’re capable. Staying put can feel as uncertain as moving forward. And IT uncertainty is bad for business at every level — operationally, analytically, and financially.
TPSM providers help extend the life of the software investments companies have already made. For an ongoing mainframe modernization strategy, that can mean:
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