We recently sat down with mainframe experts Scott Spiro and Barry Wordell from Microsoft, and Tim Jones and John Regan from Advanced, to talk about migrating mainframe workloads to Azure. Our discussion focused primarily on breaking the shackles of legacy mainframe systems and what to expect throughout various stages of cloud migration.
Here are some of the most interesting highlights:
Why are organisations choosing Microsoft Azure?
“Our customers are looking beyond just the qualities of Azure,” says Microsoft Mainframe Modernisation Strategist Wordell, “to the depth and breadth of the Microsoft portfolio that helps customers throughout their journey. Whether that’s greenfield, new business logic or a simpler, faster path.”
“Security and compliance as well as identity and access management are super critical for organisations,” Wordell continues. ”All of which are reasons why customers choose Microsoft. Microsoft takes an open and neutral approach and works with partners, like Advanced, to deliver unbiased guidance to customers”.
What are the primary drivers for choosing a cloud provider?
“It depends on where organisations are in their journey to the cloud,” advises Regan, Advanced’s Head of Development. “I would say that most customers favour a multi cloud kind of approach – so not putting all their eggs in one basket. One of the key drivers is the security of the cloud. Having confidence in its ability to secure is of paramount concern – and that’s where Microsoft scores very highly.”
Moving workloads from the mainframe to the cloud was a bit of a late bloomer. What do you believe finally tipped the scales?
“It’s taken time for customers to become comfortable with the cloud as a target, but it’s something that we're seeing more and more,” says Spiro, Worldwide Director and Specialist of Mainframe Transformations at Microsoft. “It is becoming a cloud first strategy for new development, but also for legacy applications. Rather than moving into an on premise or to a private cloud, now organisations are trusting the public cloud. The fact that you can integrate with the Azure control panel, Azure Data Services, and take advantage of the advanced services that Azure provides is the value customers are seeing.”
What cost savings can organisations expect when moving from the mainframe to Azure?
“We typically see between 50-85% cost savings,” says Wordell. “And those cost savings are going to be driven by the degree to which a customer desires to transform their landscape. So, for example, if a customer is running a large complex mainframe with critical business processes and determines that they want to potentially reinvent, greenfield or create cloud native applications to recreate those business processes in the cloud, that is when customers will achieve a much higher degree of savings in the long run.”
What are some of the other go/no go decision criteria for making the jump to modernise, and how has this evolved in the past five years?
“In the past, we've seen cost, staffing issues, agility, and other drivers impact the go/no go decision. But with changing demographics and the looming skill shortage, we are seeing staffing now coming up in terms of prioritisation of drivers,” says Regan.
If someone is navigating the uncharted waters of mainframe modernisation for the very first time, what advice would experts like yourself give?
“Talk to the experts who have done this before,” answers Tim Jones, Managing Director of Application Modernization at Advanced. “At Advanced we work with organisations on disposition strategies and look at all the options. Is conversion refactoring the right thing to do? Is it rehost? Is it retire? Is it rewrite, or a combination of those things?”
Watch the full roundtable with modernization experts from Advanced and Microsoft Azure here.