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.

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March 30, 2017

Mainframe Legacy Decommissioning(1/2)

In the new era of digital transformation, new strategies and technologies are taking over the legacy applications to run the day to day business. As a result of new technologies driving in, when new digital next generation aligned applications are deployed to production, many of the mainframe legacy applications become redundant .The business value of these mainframe legacy applications decreases with every passing year, but organizations often continue to support them for the purposes of data access and compliance. The cost of doing so can consume over 50 percent of an overall IT budget. Decommissioning will enable organizations in eliminating maintenance costs, associated hardware and software costs of these outdated legacy systems.


Application decommissioning is all about isolating the application by migrating the database to archival system, removing the interfaces for upstream and downstream systems and detaching the allocated hardware from its active use, while the business-critical data is still available to the application as is and when required. Typical examples/drivers of decommissioning include:

ยท         Retiring an old application, which has more functional and technical capable alternative system.

  •          Consolidation of one or more in-house applications or COTS products into a single enterprise solution such as ERP, CRM etc.
  •         Elimination of redundant applications within the Enterprise landscape
  •         Mergers and acquisitions of the organizations.


Benefits of Decommissioning:

By decommissioning outdated, redundant, high cost and low value applications organizations can achieve tangible benefits as below :-

  •          Reduction in maintenance costs by removing unwanted hardware, outdated software and human resources.
  •         Financing new business initiative or projects  by utilizing unconstrained resources from decommissioning projects
  •         Expenditure reduction on licenses and infrastructure of non-scaleble technologies.  
  •         Reducing operational risks by simplifying and aligning the enterprise to next Gen Architecture.


All data from a proposed decommissioned legacy system or application may or may not be migrated / archived to the newer replacement system. This depends on the driving factors of application chosen for decommissioning, business criticality and technical adequacy of the system and the impact of the decommissioning on existing enterprise architecture and business processes. I will cover the data migration and archival options in the separate blog.

Application decommissioning best practices suggest archiving all of the data at once while maintaining online access to the data through a preferred reporting tool.

Infosys application decommissioning methodology typically involves following four steps:

1. Portfolio Assessment

2. Detailed Impact Assessment

3. Solution Planning

4. Actual Execution and realization.


Step 1: Portfolio Assessment

In the portfolio assessment phase, the entire enterprise landscape is assessed for each application's life-cycle and identify which applications to maintain, which to invest in, which to replace and which to decommission.

Using sophisticated questionnaire with individual scores mapped to each of the influencing area, the applications are assessed for its Technical maturity, Business criticality along with its Strategic Fitness on organizational road-map and TCO. This is top down interview based approach and by interviewing different Business owners, IT owners and Business Analysts, the application is assessed for its impact on organization, customer service, dependencies on other applications to see if it's a potential candidates for decommissioning.


Step 2: Detailed Impact Assessment

In this phase, we assess the impact of decommissioning on various external and internal interfaces of each application through in-depth analysis.

The impact is assessed by detailed tool based inventory analysis and considering the impact of application on various areas like on access, business, benefits, etc. Infosys has the right set of tools (Combination of In-house and third party tools) viz. Legacy Analyzer, Microfocus Enterprise Analyzer or Averisoruce, in this area which can help and detect the application dependencies, Limitation and risks associated with application and Maintainability index.

The outcome of this step will help us arrive at the final list of applications which will be considered for decommissioning.


Step 3: Solution Planning

The objective of this phase is to identify

  •        Possible solutions for decommissioning the identified applications
  •        Choose the best solution for data archival ( On Premises  Vs Cloud) and best data retrieval strategy (Cold and Hot Retrievals)
  •        Identify all the application technical components like programs, JCL, Databases, Online entries, Scheduler entries, infrastructure used by the application, different access levels required for different users along with all the interfaces and business processes. Raise a change request for the actual decommissioning solution in the execution step. The change request will have all the details of all associated hardware and software's to retire after decommissioning. 

Typical decommissioning solution is prepared from application usage and detailed parameters gathered during portfolio assessment and detailed impact analysis phase. These parameters are

  •         Managing application access for various users and partners
  •         Managing application upstream and downstream interfaces to ensure landscape collaboration
  •         Managing the data exchanges, decision making for archive or dispose
  •        Managing released infrastructure components used by the application to be decommissioned


Step 4: Actual Execution and Realization

In the execution phase, the identified decommissioning solution is implemented for successful completion of the project. The decommissioning of the applications is executed as per the project plan prepared under Solution planning and reports are generated for each component of solution.

Below are some reports generated during the execution phase and are validated after implementation:-

  •         Impact Analysis Report.
  •        Data Scan Report
  •        Data Archiving/Migration/Integration Reports

More coming in my next blog.

March 1, 2017

Legacy Modernization - Where do I begin?

Many enterprises in different industry verticals have made huge investments in the legacy systems in the past - which are now leading to operational inefficiencies with the increase in their business growth. These legacy systems inhibit the organizations from embracing next-generation technology that will enable business innovation. Many firms have looked at these investments as additional expenses but modernization is the key differentiator to capture market share and stay atop among the competitors. 

How to do more with less?
As a partner, it is important for vendors to understand the modern technology trends and evaluate, how can it help transform the enterprise and prepare it for the future. The below 5-step strategy will provide a simplified approach towards modernization of application and systems within the enterprise:

5- Step Strategy for IT Modernization:
  1. Identify the key business goals of the enterprise.
  2. Identify the barriers & challenges across IT systems and its impact to the business
  3. List out the key Modernization themes based on the gap between business and IT
  4. Lay out the Strategic Solutions to modernize the platform
  5. Choose the best suited solution and define the transition road map to future state
The 5-step strategy works. A case in point
As a strategic partner, we were part of a modernization initiative for one of the leading insurance brokers. The 5-Step strategy greatly helped us to arrive at the modernization solutions that helped transform their business. 

Let me explain how this 5-step strategy was applied to simplify the client's landscape modernization and achieve business innovation.

1. Identify the key business goals of the enterprise
A combination of interviews & questionnaires with all the key stakeholders of the enterprise helped us understand their vision and arrive at their business goals as listed below.
  • Reduce Total Cost of Ownership
  • Better Return on Investment
  • Enhance Operation Efficiency
  • Faster Time to Market
  • Increase Global Footprint
  • Gain Agility
  • Enrich User experience
  • Scale for Future
2. Identify the barriers & challenges across IT systems and its impact to the business  
It is important to comprehend the challenges & the gaps in the existing landscape that will lead us to find the right opportunities for investment.
  • Understand the business and IT constraints
  • Perform portfolio assessment of different applications within the landscape
  • Document the key challenges across different applications 
  • Identify the impact to the business
An assessment of the IT landscape of the insurance broking company was carried out, which helped in identifying the key challenges across different portfolios of the enterprise and the business impact of such concerns to the enterprise, which is depicted in the below diagram:

1. IT Landscape assesment.png

3. List out the key Modernization themes based on the gap between business and IT  
Bridging the gap between business and IT is essential to the success of a transformation or modernization initiative in an enterprise. A holistic view of the organization, an understanding of their business expectations and IT strategy helped is in deriving the key modernization themes that will help in delivering the desired business outcome.

4. Lay out the Strategic Solutions to modernize the platform  
We arrived at different strategic solution options based on the identified modernization themes. It is to be noted that the strategic solutions described below may only suit the challenges associated with this case study. The strategic solutions will have to be tailored for the specific needs of the enterprise.

2. Strategic Solutions.png

5. Choose the best suited solution and define the transition roadmap to future state
The strategic solutions arrived at step-4 will have to be well-thought across different aspects like cost, ROI (Return on investment), business benefits etc. These solutions were compared against different factors like cost & business benefits that they offer. A quick comparison of different solution options against these aspects helped the clients make the right choice.

3. Mod Options.png

In this case study, the client chose the 'Rationalize' option - where they wanted to prioritize their lines of business that will have to undergo modernization. The client was also keen on reusing their existing assets as much as possible. Accordingly, the road map was defined, where-in the modernization was planned in different phases.

The best suited solution should be chosen for the enterprise such that it improves the corporate agility and competitiveness.  Future state roadmap is to be defined and the transition architectures will have to be detailed to transform the baseline architecture to target architecture in phases.          

Having an appropriate strategy for IT modernization is imperative to the success of an enterprise modernization. The CIOs will have to make conscious decisions in terms of investments for transforming their IT systems in the most efficient and cost effective manner. It is important to ensure that IT modernization strategy is in alignment with the overall business strategy and the vision of the enterprise. The 5-Step modernization strategy detailed in this article will help the CIOs, business & IT directors and enterprise architects optimize their business & gain competitive advantage.  

Authored by:
Nandha Venkateswaran
Senior Technology Architect, Infosys

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