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Published April 6, 2020

Dealing with legacy systems during the time of COVID – 19 mania

Dealing with legacy systems during the time of COVID - 19 mania

COVID – 19 It’s a fact of life that new shiny things are more interesting that old, dull things. And yet it’s the boring stuff that keeps the world working. Once the problems have been ironed out and technology just works, it’s a lot less interesting for innovators to “play” with.

Over the decades thousands of the world’s most successful businesses have implemented massive systems to run much of their core processing requirement, and these systems continue to deliver day in and day out with very few issues. They are secure, and they require a relatively small team to operate. They are not cheap, but when compared to other choices have continually proven themselves to be the most cost-effective way of processing massive volumes of transactions.

These systems are today predominantly built by a single vendor, IBM, and consist of system Z and iSeries machines, also known as mainframes and AS400’s.

These platforms have become the workhorses of business, and code written for these platforms several decades ago is still being used in production today.

When companies have tried to replace these platforms with newer ones, the results are generally not what one would like to see. Airlines have tried, banks have tried, telecoms companies have tried, government departments have tried, and there is a whole army of ex-CIO’s and CTO’s who can look back at problems with these projects at the key reason they are now Ex-executive’s (is that an ecutive?).

The challenge is always the same;

  1. There is a massive base of code written in COBOL, that needs to be converted.
  2. Mainframes provide a very advanced method of managing security, which takes a long time to setup, and is very hard to replicate on non-mainframe systems.
  3. Mainframes use the most advanced method of swapping applications in and out of memory at such a high speed that it allows them to run at close to 100% utilization nearly all the time. Getting to anywhere near the same level of performance on non-mainframe architectures requires a massive number of discrete computers that are very hard to manage at anywhere near the same level of reliability.

When a business makes the strategic decision to migrate from mainframe (or mini) to a distributed platform, they are forced to become intimately familiar with the true cost of making the change. And it always costs far more and takes much longer than predicted, and the risks associated with the change are daunting.

Thousands of companies stick with their mainframes, which, while boring, work really efficiently and effectively.

But who wants to work on boring tech? We’ll very few millennials it turns out, as the average age of the mainframe workforce continues to grow. It takes very few experts to keep mainframes running.

But guess what, older people retire and so over time the size of the available pool of experts is shrinking.

Who is able to write new COBOL code? Well as it turns out, less people than are needed when a major pandemic creates a massive need for rapid changes across a large number of systems at the same time.

IBM have made it possible to run more modern code on mainframes, you can even run the linux operating system on mainframes (zLinux) and still maintain much of the security and scalability of the platform.

But then the challenge is how to you connect all these new applications with all those older legacy applications and also modern and legacy applications running on systems outside the mainframe, and for this this is IBM MQ.

But with so many different queues spread across many queue managers, can the tools needed to manage MQ keep up. The answer is often, no. And this is why you need Nastel Navigator.

Nastel Navigator allows all of your queues and queue managers to be managed from a single web-based console. The middleware administrator can even provide secure, private access to each developer to manage their own queues.

For many businesses Nastel Navigator has allowed them to significantly improve their ability to manage change. Allowing code changes and new applications to be used across all your environments with minimal fuss.

If your business is dealing with a massive volume of application change requests driven by the covid19 event, you need an immediate solution to improve your teams ability to manage these changes. Nastel Navigator can be a huge help, and since the express version is available free, you can start using it today and not worry about the complexity of getting a purchase order approved.

To find out more try it for yourself now!

Nastel has created a feed with some new information on COVID-19! Click here.

You won’t regret it!