How security is driving mainframe modernisation

02/12/2022 minute read Tim Jones

The 2022 Mainframe Modernisation Business Barometer Report, which summarises findings from a recent survey of global mainframe users uncovers a new concern from enterprise IT leaders. 

Security was not only listed as the primary driver for legacy application transformation, but for the first time ever, 41% of respondents ranked it as the key element considered when prioritising their mainframe modernisation strategies. This may surprise many readers since the mainframe is legendary for its security.

Downstream impact of mainframe reliance including the security of data, regulatory compliance, and infrastructure management were highlighted as causes for security-specific unease – introducing a new point of focus previously missing from our 2020 or 2021 analyses. 

Regarding compliance, one U.S. federal government agency commented, “Most vendors do not fully support legacy systems since they continue to use outdated software that has not been upgraded to meet the most recent security regulations. No matter how much money we budget for IT, maintaining these systems requires ongoing maintenance, necessitating ongoing security expenditure, when we could make one sizable investment and catch up with the systems of this time.”

Concerns around security of the data itself arose often in conversations with respondents as well. A German software company said, “Our country has the strictest data protection. We are a software company providing IT services for tax consultants, auditors, lawyers, and big clients; we need to ensure security, so that is our main concern.”

In other words, although the mainframe’s stellar reputation for security remains untarnished, there are a number of growing ancillary risks associated with these systems that are influencing platform decision-making.

Other modernisation drivers included the shift to the cloud (29%), high/rising software licensing costs (​​28%), integration issues (26%), organisational technology consolidation (25%), hardware dependency (23%), and lack of scalability (19%) – all pointing to platform-specific challenges that are increasing in intensity as the rift between legacy systems and modern IT environments like the cloud grows wider. In the words of one automotive manufacturer in Europe, “Automation and cloud simplify processes and require less time, resulting in increased productivity.”

When asked about the consequences of choosing not to modernise, most survey participants (41%) believe retaining legacy systems increases the risk associated with system failure and downtime. Many cite an inability to scale to meet new demands (34%), a lack of business agility (32%), and difficulty integrating with modern tech (32%) as direct consequences of foregoing modernisation as well.

Our 2022 Mainframe Modernisation Business Barometer Report summarises key findings from a survey of organisations around the globe that utilise mainframes and generate annual revenues of more than US $1 billion. To view the full report, which delves into key mainframe modernisation catalysts and insights behind successful migration strategies across sectors and geographies, download here.

Our team of modernisation experts has an unmatched history of project success, backed by the best tools available. If you would like to find out more about how we can help with your legacy modernisation projects, please get in touch.