Mainframe Assessment and the #1 Cause of Legacy Modernization Failure
As several analysts at Gartner’s CIO Symposium noted, a mainframe assessment driving granular visibility into COBOL code and other legacy artifacts is often the difference between project success and failure. However, for many legacy applications, little documentation exists or is current. There are several layers of complexity associated with migrating from dissimilar platforms (Mainframe to Windows, Linux, or Unix). Despite all this, the business insists on functional equivalence between the legacy and new systems. They’ll want the same performance level delivered for less money by fewer people. If a little known use case is left out of the modernization effort, it could throw off the entire testing and user validation process.
Modernization projects put a ton of pressure on IT, and the margin for error is slim. Specific problems a proper Mainframe Assessment solves include:
- Ensure business rules and technical use cases are documented
- Ensure no critical requirements or functionality are left out of the target state design in a modernization effort
- Includes option selection analysis and cost modeling for modernization roadmap
- Save time and money by using automated technologies
- Identify and removes dead and unused code
While the first four may seem obvious, that last one is really important. Recently, we were involved in a project that found over 70% of the legacy COBOL code was entirely unused. Had the modernization effort moved forward without the analysis, it would’ve taken twice as long and produced 4x the number of testing errors!
Modern Systems designed and developed its DB-Shuttle automation technology to allow preliminary conversion of the database design and application software during the mainframe assessment. This preliminary conversion further defines areas of concentration and is used in preparation of the project plan for the full conversion. Once these Areas of Concentration are identified, customer teams and Modern Systems will address the areas about which they are most knowledgeable and for which they are best suited to implement a solution. Any additional Areas of Concentration that are identified during the course of the assessment will be addressed and assigned in the same manner, to the most appropriate team. It also proves the conversion concept and identifies any special requirements for a successful conversion. No converted code is delivered as part of the assessment. All of the collected source code is parsed down to the line and field level and stored as metadata in the DB-Shuttle database. Portions of this source code metadata can be packaged and made available to the customer teams for additional analysis if desired.
A mainframe assessment has a well-defined process that includes automated collection and inventory, analysis, and measurement of all software and database components in the current customer environment. The assessment begins with a question-and-answer session and ends with the presentation of findings and plans for the modernization effort. Iterations of re-collection and re-assessment may be required and performed as additional components are identified and brought into the assessment scope. The DB-Shuttle assessment process is 100% automated, so it is fast, simple and comprehensive.
The illustration below outline the details of a proper mainframe assessment- what we do, what the customer does, and ultimately, what you’ll need to avoid modernization failure. This content is based on over 20 years of modernization experience AND best practices from analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester, and more.