Australian companies are slow to wean from the mainframe

Australian businesses tend to have an easy mindset that slows down mainframe modernization initiatives, Accenture expert says

Australia’s mainframe migration efforts are proceeding at a slower-than-expected pace, with many taking a peaceful approach before taking the plunge.

Said Al Auda, head of Accenture’s mainframe business in Australia and New Zealand, who noted that Australian companies tend to have a “mindset that further slows down launch. mainframe modernization initiatives ”.

And for those who have already embarked on the mainframe migration, challenges in mitigating the risk of business disruption continue to plague Australian businesses.

“The systems running on the mainframes are massive and difficult to decouple, and a ‘big bang’ approach of getting out of the mainframe is risky,” Auda said, adding that many organizations have instead chosen to expose certain features. mainframe through web services or application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate with digital channels.

Others could invest in detailed assessments or findings to craft a modernization roadmap that will match their mainframe landscape and business needs, in addition to other challenges such as budget, executive sponsorship and strategies. clearly defined, added Auda.

100% of the world’s top 10 insurers, 90% of top 100 banks, 92% of top 25 airlines and 72% of top 25 retailers still use mainframes to manage complex, monolithic workloads, according to Accenture research related to basic business processes.

At Australian retailer Kmart, for example, mainframes had powered some back-end processes, including supply chain, merchandising and inventory management. In May 2020, she began moving these workloads to Amazon Web Services (AWS). The migration plan was to lift and move Cobol code to the cloud, as well as rebuild some code into microservices.

“There will be some cleanup of the old code, and some of that code will run in the cloud on a central emulator,” said Michael Fagan, chief technology officer at Kmart. “But at the same time, we are shipping slices of the mainframe and rebuilding them as microservices that can interact with other applications. ”

This is typically the end goal for many organizations to eventually run cloud native applications or microservices on modern platforms – even though IBM has built its mainframe systems to support the loads. modern workplaces through Red Hat OpenShift.

“Few organizations see the importance of running modern workloads on the mainframe given the time, resources and investment required to pivot. Instead, businesses are turning to digital and cloud technologies and services to start the journey to modernize the mainframe (and legacy in general), ”said Auda.

Auda said that it is possible and desirable for organizations to move completely out of the mainframe in the fullness of time, but full mainframe modernization cannot be achieved by a multi-year journey.

In Accenture’s experience, successful mainframe modernization efforts have secured agreement from key stakeholders across business and IT, a well-defined migration roadmap and in partnership with an experienced supplier.

Mainframe experts, however, are hard to find, with many already retired or about to retire from their careers.

In Australia, Auda said there are two schools in Victoria and Queensland that teach Cobol, adding that Accenture trains employees on the programming language to help organizations meet their mainframe modernization goals.

Cloud providers like AWS have also launched partner skills programs to equip software vendors and consulting firms with the skills they need to support mainframe migrations.

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