Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Migrating from the Mainframe

The singer Neil Sedaka said it best way back in the 1950’s: breaking up is hard to do.Risk of Mainframe Migrations

That’s certainly true when it comes to breaking up with your mainframe. After all, you’ve been a couple for a long time. There were long years of happiness followed by recent years of mutual frustration. Sometimes couples just grow in different directions, right? And now it’s time to move on – but you’re not sure how.

As always, moving on is easier said than done. You’ve got some big challenges to face. Let’s take a look at some of the key issues.

  • Complexity: Migrating from a mainframe is complex, in part because mainframe applications and workloads tend to grow in complexity during their many years of service. You need to determine how long testing will take and clarify what’s in your inventory before moving forward. A complete snapshot of your inventory and interactions will enable you to prioritize the application and data areas so you can move the right ones first. It’s also essential to come up with correct, comprehensive use cases and to quantify your performance information. Otherwise, you won’t have a basis of comparison with the migrated environment.
  • Time: Ending your mainframe relationship takes time. The migration process involves a wide range of issues that you have to deal with before, during, and after migration. Among those issues are compatibility with the desired target framework, addressing numerous interdependencies, and devising process timetables. You’ll need to perform detailed dependency mapping so you can base your migration decisions on the dependencies of each application as well as their critical nature and any security concerns.


Realistically, the length of time needed for mainframe migration really depends on the makeup of your mainframe. If you have a smaller footprint of tools (e.g., just COBOL and VSAM), it will go much faster and could take months. But when there is an abundance of assembler code and a wide range of tools such as IDMS, PACBASE, IMS, etc., migration could take much longer.

  • Risk: Mainframe migration can be risky. Those risks must be addressed to successfully migrate to a new environment. For example, you might encounter unexpected testing challenges, or have trouble determining server modification history.
  • Expertise: Migrating from a mainframe to a new environment requires specialized expertise and the available person hours to apply that knowledge and skill. Do you have the resources, people and time to implement a migration while still keeping up with other daily activities? If not, you need skilled help and guidance.


Sometimes relationships end – but they don’t have to end badly.

The best way to address the complexity and risks of a mainframe migration is to take advantage of outside support. Not only will this help lift the burden from in-house staff, but it will reduce the risk of migration such as costly down time, data loss, and reduced profits.

At New Iron Solutions, we understand the staffing challenges that can hamper your ability to migrate from your mainframe. We can help you meet your staffing needs before they impact your business. Contact us online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).