A few years back, there was speculation that most mainframes would be turned off, and their applications and data moved to Intel and AMD-based servers. But the mainframe grew more open, and many IT managers recognized that attempting to rip and replace years' worth of painstaking programming and logic was more risk than it was worth.
But, that doesn’t mean it can't be done.
ComputerWeekly's Cliff Saran recently published an interesting account of a major insurer's journey from the mainframe to Windows computers. Irish Life, which ran its operations on mainframe computers for 40-some years, recognized that a move to distributed PC servers was the right step. The company also had some Unix boxes ripe for the move as well.
The migration took about three years, involving the movement of 97 percent of the company's applications and data from the mainframe to three 12-core servers. End-users' front ends — running in Java — remained the same. “We did not change front-end. We pointed it to the new back-end servers,” according to Barry Ryan, chief technical architect at Irish Life.
The company projects it will save about $2.3 million annually as a result of the move, and speed up the time to run batch jobs. The new system also made it easier to add new businesses.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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