mainframe cloud

Vendor Outsourcing in Disguise: The Truth About Mainframe ‘Clouds’

Some time ago, I was reading a mainframe software vendor’s blog post that included a quote from an anonymous State and Local CIO expressing excitement about mainframe “Cloud” offerings. My first thought was that this was an obvious vendor gimmick. But as the former CTO of Arkansas, I realized some of my peers in government IT and in major corporations may not see it as that. They might read the blog, or other marketing around this ploy, and be drawn down a path of no return if beguiled by money-saving schemes.

The vendor proposes moving your on-premises mainframe operations to their mainframe Cloud to save money. Caveat emptor: This is not a Cloud service. It is a traditional outsourcing arrangement—and it’s not a good one.

The advantage of a Cloud is you pay as you go, avoiding infrastructure and support costs. But here’s the thing: even though distributed systems can run “in the Cloud,” companies still have full control over them. The mainframe Cloud this vendor is advocating for does not give you control over your systems. It gives them control.

The Ruse of Saving Money with a Mainframe ‘Cloud’

IT leaders today are faced with continual budget constraints. As always, there are new and shiny tools out there that are presented as the next best thing to answer all of your issues in one fell swoop. With the average tenure of a state CIO hovering around four years, these solutions sound great.

Whether it is a platform solution or a new, automated public service where you merely flip a switch, it often sounds too good to be true.

Moving to a proprietary mainframe Cloud to cut costs is clearly a masquerade for forcing adopters into a rigid, top-down set of point products owned by monolithic vendors who then commandeer complete control of your mainframe environment—including how much and how often they charge for service, licensing and other revenue-generating factors they’ve condensed into their “Cloud.”

The Facts Surrounding Conversions: Working Code is Gold

First, let’s take a look at the facts surrounding system conversions. Keep one sentence in mind as you spend precious dollars: Working code is gold! The multi-million-dollar cost associated with re-writing applications is often prohibitive. Even if successful, they run less effectively and at a higher cost when moved, as Dr. Howard Rubin, CEO and Founder of Rubin Worldwide, has shown.

Second, projects that involve rewriting high-volume, high-performance, highly secure mainframe applications as Cloud applications have largely failed in practice. Only a small percentage of these projects actually succeed. For a recent example, read this article.

A Better Option: Two-platform IT Strategy

Let’s face it, “as a service’” Cloud providers like AWS and Azure have distributed infrastructure down to a science. Moving distributed apps is almost a no-brainer. However, there is no real cost advantage to moving mainframe infrastructure.

At Compuware, we implemented what we call a Two-platform IT approach.

We shifted all administrative, non-differentiating functions to the Cloud. Our email, customer information and call center functions work seamlessly using the integrated functionality that is readily available. Our proprietary software, which requires the utmost resilient platform, resides in our data center. It runs on the most securable, highest-speed processor with seamless redundancy available in the market today—the mainframe.

And what has been the overall fiscal impact? We removed 91 racks and saved millions of dollars.

Don’t be ‘Cloud’-exploited—Let Us Help You

CIOs looking at Cloud for mainframe applications are more likely feeling trapped on a platform that they don’t understand, and/or are concerned with the speed of development. It’s way more effective to capitalize on the mainframe and invest in tools that support Agile Development and DevOps processes.

We will help you every step of the way, and it begins in Detroit. Come and see for yourself how industry leaders maximize the Cloud and keep their critical assets on the best platform available—the mainframe.

What can we do to help your mainframe organization? Fill out a contact form today.

This post is also available on LinkedIn.