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Updated by Charles Bystock on 04/04/2023
mainframe software

Can outsourcing really help you overcome mainframe software vendor constraints? The short answer is yes. As mainframe technology becomes constrained with increasing compatibility issues and declining mainframe knowledge among the younger workforce, outsourcing offers an excellent way to navigate these constraints. Not only can outsourcing provide additional expertise and increased compatibility, but it can help future-proof your business to effortlessly navigate changing technological economies. Here’s how to make it work for your organization.

The challenges of mainframe software providers

As most IT leaders already know, working with mainframe software providers can create various challenges, such as:

  • Rigid contracts or financial obligations
  • Higher MSU costs for smaller organizations
  • Changing terms and conditions with the potential for negative cost impacts
  • Unsustainable annual software and infrastructure updates/cost increases
  • Numerous interdependencies making mainframe applications difficult to change
  • Expensive upgrades and inflexible terms and conditions from independent software vendors (ISVs)

With outsourcing, you get not only a stable and scalable provider, but also the ability to negotiate more favorable contracts. As most outsourcing providers put clients on shared machines, they often benefit from lower contract rates they can then pass on to you, their client. As TechChannel noted, “In many cases, mainframe systems have had such little attention that companies are literally wasting resources and money by the minute.” Still, outsourcing can enable you to create value within your existing systems through three main solutions:

Improved compatibility and upgrades

First, outsourcing lets you maintain existing systems while also innovating and upgrading them. Although the cost and time required to overhaul or modernize your mainframe system are generally prohibitive for most companies, outsourcing allows you to get more value — both now and hereafter — from your current systems.

While mainframes are viewed as outdated technology, they still manage numerous tasks demanding extensive transaction and batch processing. Upgrades are often thought of as replacing your mainframe altogether, but budget restrictions will prevent most mainframes from being replaced in the near future. This is where managed mainframe services can help.

Managed mainframe services can fix integration issues by upgrading existing points of concern to make integration seamless without a complete overhaul — delivering results while saving time and costs. Further, an outsourcing partner offers ongoing expertise in a highly technical area. Although managing and upgrading mainframes in-house can be expensive, outsourcing provides affordable expertise to serve your organization in the long term.

Expertise and training to maintain mainframes

Even in the late 1980s and early ’90s, technology leaders were already declaring the mainframe dead or at least old news. For example, take Stewart Alsop’s prediction from 1991 about how the last mainframe would be unplugged in 1996. At the time, many organizations had projects to transition away from mainframes, but most of these projects failed. In any case, this stalwart technology is here to stay.

Mainframes aren't going anywhere, but exposure to mainframes has been declining considerably since the 1990s. Outsourcing provides the expertise and training needed to continue maintaining your mainframes for the long haul, even as your internal mainframe experts age out of the workforce. In general, younger hires aren’t being trained on mainframe technology, making future hiring and in-house maintenance difficult.

On the other hand, outsourcing providers can offer unique educational incentives to a network of colleges and universities for a constant stream of new mainframe talent. And with a variety of outsourcing options now available — traditional, partial, on-site, remote, dedicated, shared, and so on — you can use your existing employees’ skills alongside an outsourcing provider while ensuring continued support for your systems in the future.

Future-proofing your business through trusted IT partnerships

Outsourcing is a low-risk endeavor for future-proofing your organization — as long as you choose the right IT partner. This is why Windsor Group emphasizes provider “matchmaking,” ensuring each provider partnership placement is the right fit for both parties. After all, while a negative outsourcing experience can be costly to your organization, strong provider partnerships provide expertise, innovation, and resources to benefit and grow your business long into the future.

By focusing on the cultural, strategic, and organizational fit with our provider matches, we place a high value on trust, collaboration, and transparency — key values to allow you to future-proof your organization through excellent outsourcing expertise. For organizations looking to scale or stabilize their business by upgrading their mainframe systems, or those searching for a trusted partner to support and navigate future changes to mainframe compatibility and usage, Windsor Group can make sure your next provider offers the most valuable partnership possible.