Striking the balance: navigating mainframe modernisation for a future-ready enterprise

LzLabs is a Business Reporter customer.

Albert Einstein once remarked, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” In today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, that wisdom is more important than ever. As organizations strive to remain competitive, one of the most significant and often daunting changes they face is the migration from mainframes to modern systems, whether in the cloud, hybrid cloud, or on-premises. The question remains whether it is time to say goodbye to mainframes. The answer is often yes, but accompanied by a cautious “but…”

A 2021 research white paper by LzLabs sheds light on a dichotomy many companies struggle with. While 67 percent of decision makers acknowledged that their mainframes impeded innovation, a staggering 96 percent viewed mainframes as an integral part of their operations. This paradox underscores the complexity of accepting change, especially when it involves a fundamental departure from established systems.

The balancing act: legacy, relevance and modernization

Mainframes, once the cornerstone of enterprise computing, face challenges in the modern age. The research found that 90 percent of respondents found it difficult to align mainframe applications with innovation goals, and 84 percent encountered barriers to building, developing, and testing applications quickly. Despite these hurdles, mainframe applications continue to be critical to business operations.

This juxtaposition of necessity and obsolescence poses a formidable challenge. While change is needed, full commitment to modernization is not yet attainable. The way forward requires a balanced approach that recognizes the value of mainframes while paving the way for innovation.

Promote mainframe modernization

The evolution of mainframe as a platform is reflected in the projected 16 percent compound annual growth rate in mainframe migration projects, as reported in a Study 2022 commissioned by LzLabs. Drivers of this trend are factors beyond the mainframe itself: cost reduction, skill depletion, agility, innovation and security. Business and technology leaders recognize the need for innovation and are embracing flexible technologies that enable speed and business agility.

A shortage of skilled workers increases the urgency. Maintaining older software is becoming increasingly difficult as expertise dwindles and younger generations show little interest in outdated programming languages. This inevitability is driving organizations to move away from the mainframe, regardless of the investment required.

Overcoming barriers: perception vs. reality

The costs and perceived complexity of migration projects can impede progress. The 2022 survey found that 14 percent of respondents see project budget commitment as a primary constraint. However, the transformation of the old stock does not have to incur enormous costs. Through strategic partnerships and leveraging technology expertise, modernization becomes a catalyst for innovation rather than a drain on resources.

Navigating the Path: Modernization Strategies

Modernizing legacy systems is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. A successful approach requires understanding which components need to be replaced and which can be retained. The modernization can harmoniously coexist with the existing architecture while preserving core processes that are critical to the operations of an organization.

Amidst complexity and risk, successful organizations are embarking on tried-and-tested modernization paths that increase agility and innovation. Instead of imposing rigid structures, the right strategy ensures adaptability and uses the mainframe transformation and migration project as a basis for innovation to catapult companies into a future full of possibilities.

As Einstein’s wisdom echoes down the corridors of technology, companies are challenged to embrace change to realize their true potential. The evolution from mainframes to modern systems is not just a technological shift, but a strategic imperative that paves the way for a dynamic and future-proof company.

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Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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