Obsolete on-prem Mainframes are now insufficient to sustain operations in today’s dynamic business environment, in which legacy application modernization is an absolute necessity. 

It is now necessary for businesses to have a faster time to market, better employee experience, and customer experience; however, legacy mainframe systems present a significant obstacle in accomplishing the same. Viability of the Mainframe as a long-term technology solution is also impacted by factors such as cost considerations and shifts in the workforce. 

After reading this article, you will better understand the challenges and benefits of mainframe modernization to cloud computing, as well as the correct approach to acquiring application modernization services to get your migration journey started on the right foot. So without further ado, let’s get to it. 

Challenges of Mainframe Systems 

The high costs resulting from legacy mainframes’ disadvantages are becoming harder and harder to justify. The following are examples of common difficulties that businesses encounter when using legacy mainframe systems:

The diminishing pool of skilled professionals with expertise in mainframes: A study by Forrester found that 23% of the workforce that worked on mainframes had been lost, and 63% of that workforce had not been replaced. The average age of a COBOL and Mainframe expert is over 50 years old, and the market is seeing fewer people with in-depth knowledge of mainframe architecture and engineering.  

People with years of experience leave their jobs, and when they do, they sometimes take very little documentation with them and leave unclear succession plans.  

Because of this, mainframe environments can become susceptible to a diminishing skills base and a significant loss of knowledge regarding the operation of these legacy systems. The next generation of IT developers and experts are proficient in modern and cloud-based platforms and tools, where they focus their attention.

This demonstrates, without a doubt, that contemporary IT professionals are unwilling to learn an outdated programming language to maintain legacy infrastructures.  

Other issues are as follows: 

  • High costs for hardware and storage Mainframes are prohibitively expensive to operate when contrasted with the “scale-out,” on-demand, pay-as-you-go computing model made available by public cloud service providers. 
  • Outdated computer programming language Most of the computing languages used by mainframes, such as COBOL, Fortran, and PL/I, are now considered obsolete. Because of this, coming up with innovative solutions for the Mainframe or building them can be challenging. 

Opposition to The Process of Change 

Some issues that you may face while modernizing your legacy Mainframe are as follows: 

  • A lack of documentation 
  • Implementation of disaster recovery and business continuity plans for mainframe systems 
  • Problems with the platform and a lack of inflexibility 
  • The lack of business agility offered by the mainframe system  
  • Limited Test environments 
  • A deficit in test automation and development operations processes .3

Most customers cannot escape the legacy application modernization because of the challenges described above, resulting in an ever-growing amount of technology debt. 

Advantages of Mainframes Being Updated to Run on the Cloud 

Cloud computing has the potential to offer economies of scale in addition to new functions that cannot be obtained through traditional mainframe computing. Because of the numerous technologies provided by cloud computing and the law of diminishing returns inherent to mainframes, there has been an increase in the demand for migration strategies. You can overcome common challenges and enjoy some of the benefits of cloud computing if you take a thoughtful, phased approach to modernize your mainframe environment.  

As was stated earlier, the costs that are incurred are proportional to the amount of overload that is placed on the mainframe structures. 

  • Unlock your data: Data is the new business currency and key to future growth. Cloud-based data warehouses, artificial intelligence, and machine learning models allow businesses to unlock the true potential of their data (data as an asset for data-driven decision-making). 
  • System Support: Innovation and experimentation are required to keep a business afloat in the digital age. This is characterized by the rise of unicorns and start-ups that offer new business models and alternative products and services. 
  • Enhanced Business Agility: If you migrate your Mainframe environment to the cloud to modernize it, you will be able to take advantage of the benefits and capabilities of this new system, which will provide you with enhanced business agility, scalability, and cost-efficiency. 
  • Adaptability and faster integration: It is estimated that 85% of business owners consider application development to be the primary factor in business expansion. 
  • Adopting emerging technologies: Acquiring technology capabilities like the Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), and others require cloud infrastructures that provide platforms to deploy these technologies. 
  • The advantage in the Market: Starting your journey toward modernization will give you a competitive advantage, putting you ahead of the competition in the market.

7R Methodology for Mainframe Technology Adaptation  

At the very least, organizations should begin modernizing their mainframe environments to meet the requirements of the current market and the expectations of their customers. The questions that need to be answered are how to carry it out and what potential obstacles might be in the way. 

This method should include a planned strategy in which you assess your applications and sketch out a systematic application strategy. If you want your modernization process to go more smoothly, you should navigate this approach using the 7R approach: 

  • Retire the Application: If an application is no longer necessary, you should retire it. For regulatory compliance, archive the data in the cloud. 
  • Retain: Some of the existing capabilities of the Mainframe and remediate or retain any specific pain points. 
  • Replace – Replace with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software and software as a service (SaaS). Migrate data to cloud infrastructure. 
  • Rehosting—Moving the server to a new, less expensive location to reap the benefits of lower costs without exposing yourself to the dangers of changing programming languages. 
  • Replatforming: This entails moving to a new platform/operating system infrastructure while making as few modifications as possible to the source code and programming languages used. 
  • Refactoring: is converting an existing piece of code or programming language into a more up-to-date form to reduce the risk of accumulating technical debt and a number of different skill risks.  
  • Reimagine – By utilizing the latest capabilities offered by cloud computing, you can reimagine the agility and performance of your business. Rewriting your applications to meet new requirements can be accomplished through the use of domain-driven design. Because of this, you won’t have to base the development of your application on the requirements of the moment, which will enable you to update your technology and any dated business procedures.


In conclusion, each business case is different, and to modernize their aging Mainframe systems, they need to consider a well-thought-out and comprehensive strategy.

It makes it easier for them to keep up with their customers’ constantly shifting expectations and achieve a more agile and straightforward architectural framework.

As was mentioned, moving your legacy Mainframe environment to the Public Cloud is the best way to modernize it because cloud computing offers cost savings of up to 70 percent, agility, and resilience to accelerate digital transformation. 

This can be accomplished by implementing and using a cloud migration strategy that has been carefully planned and thoroughly researched. I believe that the time to modernize mainframe systems is NOW, and the benefits of the cloud should warrant a rethink for businesses still debating whether or not to move their operations there. I trust that this article will prove of use. Until next time, happy modernizing! 


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