This blog is for Mainframe Modernization professionals to discuss and share perspectives, point of views and best practices around key trending topics. Discover the ART and science of mainframe modernization.

« Key Success Factors for Mainframe Renewal [Part 2/6] | Main | Accelerate performance, Operational efficiency and Reduce run cost of core systems [Part 3/6] »

Migrating workloads from Mainframe to Cloud - a perspective

For most of us, the word 'cloud' brings to mind advanced computing capabilities. Not surprisingly, people commonly think that mainframes and cloud represent two extremes on the scale of how infrastructure is deployed - while mainframes deal with legacy infrastructure, cloud is next-generation.

Historically, enterprises used mainframes to host any application on integrated infrastructure with compatible services. A glance at IBM's mainframe proves this: the IBM mainframe provisions capacity and charges the customer based on usage. Sounds familiar? Quite possibly, mainframes were the first version of the pay-as-you-go-model that is popularly used today by cloud infrastructure providers!

Today, there is a lot of buzz around cloud migration. Many enterprises want to move their workloads and applications out of legacy onto the more nimble cloud. But, if they aren't that different, you may wonder: what is the purpose of a mainframe to cloud migration? How exactly does cloud reduce cost and deliver sophisticated capabilities?

On the premise that any application can be run on cloud, based on my experience and analysis, I think enterprises should carefully consider some important aspects before embarking on a cloud migration journey.

  Considerations for Mainframe to Cloud Migration

Mainframes provide extremely high computing speed to process high volumes of data reliably and quickly. They support workloads where downtime is unacceptable. Here, zOS workload manager (WLM) ensures highly-available applications and provision data/resources instantly for quick scalability. Workloads can run during specific time periods or when an event is triggered e.g. as the last day of the month, 2 PM every Saturday, every week post IPL. Mainframe applications are highly secure, thanks to mature and comprehensive mainframe security solutions.

Now, let us take a look at what makes the cloud different.

Cloud optimizes workload performance and memory by giving you the option to select which compute processing instance can reliably manage non-functional requirements. For different workloads, you can provision them to run only for a specific duration - and pay only for the time used, enhancing the pay-as-you-go functionality. To prevent application downtime, on-cloud workload balancers (WLB) and auto scaling function, one can provisions multiple instances that distribute and scale workloads in real-time. Due consideration must be given to data and resource dependencies.

Thus, for cloud to be a true driver of reduced cost, it is up to the enterprises to identify the right workloads and provision the right capacity of compute instances to meet demands that were previously achieved even on mainframe.

On cloud, security operates as a shared model where enterprises can isolate a virtual private cloud (VPC) or use customizable security solutions that handle user permissions, restrict access to migrated applications and ensure other enterprise security needs. Additionally, most cloud providers offer connectivity from cloud to on-premises data centers. Various integration patterns can also be used to integrate cloud application and/or data into on premise mainframe systems. 

Simply put, all the due considerations and design pattern that one would apply when migrating workloads from mainframe to on-premises - the same applies for cloud migration.

This is not to say that cloud does not have its distinct advantages. Native cloud capabilities offer significant benefits in terms of reduced cost, platform integration and 'as-a-service' delivery. Enterprises can even choose to bring their own components and services as long as the components are compatible with the cloud compute instance.

It is worthwhile to evaluate your business case for migrating mainframe workloads to the cloud - particularly if you want to reduce cost and realize modern capabilities.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Please key in the two words you see in the box to validate your identity as an authentic user and reduce spam.