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The Independent UK
The Independent UK

Striking the balance: navigating mainframe modernisation for a future-ready enterprise


LzLabs is a Business Reporter client.

Albert Einstein once remarked, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” In today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape, this wisdom holds more relevance than ever. As businesses strive to stay competitive, one of the most significant and often daunting changes they face is the migration from mainframes to modern systems, whether in the cloud, hybrid cloud, or on-premises. The question of whether it’s time to move away from mainframes lingers. The answer is often yes, but accompanied by a cautious “but...”

A 2021 research whitepaper by LzLabs shed light on a dichotomy that many organisations grapple with. While 67 per cent of decision-makers acknowledged that their mainframes hindered innovation, a staggering 96 per cent viewed mainframes as integral to their operations. This paradox underscores the complexity of embracing change, especially when it involves a fundamental shift away from established systems.

The balancing act: legacy, relevance and modernisation

Mainframes, once stalwarts of enterprise computing, face challenges in the modern era. The research revealed that 90 per cent of respondents found it difficult to customise mainframe applications to align with innovation goals, and 84 per cent encountered obstacles in building, developing and testing applications quickly. Despite these hurdles, mainframe applications continue to be pivotal to business operations.

This juxtaposition of necessity and obsolescence presents a formidable challenge. While change is needed, full commitment to modernisation remains elusive. The path forward necessitates a balanced approach that acknowledges the value of mainframes while paving the way for innovation.

Driving mainframe modernisation

The evolution of mainframes as a platform is evident in the projected 16 per cent compound annual growth rate of mainframe migration projects, as reported in a 2022 study commissioned by LzLabs. Driving this trend are factors that extend beyond the mainframe itself: cost reduction, skills attrition, agility, innovation and security. Business and technology leaders recognise the imperative to innovate, advocating for flexible technology that empowers speed and business agility.

Skills shortages amplify the urgency. Maintaining legacy software becomes increasingly challenging as expertise wanes and younger generations show little interest in antiquated programming languages. This inevitability propels organisations to leave the mainframe behind, regardless of the investment required.

Overcoming barriers: perception vs reality

The cost and perceived complexity of migration projects can hinder progress. The 2022 survey indicated that 14 per cent of respondents view project budget commitment as a primary inhibitor. However, legacy transformation need not be a monumental cost. Through strategic partnerships and leveraging technology expertise, modernisation becomes a catalyst for innovation rather than a drain on resources.

Navigating the path: modernisation strategies

Legacy modernisation is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. A successful approach entails understanding what components need replacement and what can be retained. Modernisation can coexist harmoniously with existing architecture, preserving core processes critical to an organisation’s operations.

Amid complexity and risk, successful enterprises embark on legacy modernisation journeys that enhance agility and innovation. Rather than imposing rigid structures, the right strategy allows for adaptability and leverages the mainframe transformation and migration project as a foundation for innovation, propelling organisations forward into a future rich with possibilities.

As Einstein’s wisdom echoes through the corridors of technology, businesses are tasked with embracing change to unlock their true potential. The evolution from mainframes to modern systems is not merely a technological transition, it’s a strategic imperative that paves the way for a dynamic and future-ready enterprise.

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