If an application works well for a business, why risk staff and financial resources on a replacement system that may prove to be substandard? That's the quandary carriers are addressing, many of whom have invested tens of millions of dollars in systems and software to track, store, and manage data on their policyholders, finances and product lines.Indeed, many insurers are still using software originally written in the 1970s and 1980s for mainframes, but which continues to support critical operations. The issue often boils down to whether to stay with the big iron-and its high administration and upgrade costs-or migrate to more distributed, commodity-priced systems such as Unix, Linux, or Windows.

Fortunately for insurers, there is a third solution that enables them to maintain their valuable mainframe code-often representing thousands of hours of development time-by moving off the mainframe and running it on lower cost platforms.

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