Can outsourcing help you overcome mainframe software vendor issues? The short answer is yes. As mainframe technology becomes increasingly integrated with modern technologies and faces declining knowledge among the younger workforce, outsourcing offers an excellent way to navigate these challenges.
Not only can outsourcing provide additional expertise and the resources needed to manage integrations at scale, but it can also position your business to manage an evolving ecosystem of technologies with as few disruptions as possible. Here’s how to make it work for your organization.
Challenge: the constraints of mainframe software providers
As most IT leaders already know, working with mainframe software vendors can create various challenges. While every vendor differs in their sales approach and service capabilities, some of the persistent challenges include:
- Rigid contracts or financial obligations
- Higher MSU costs for smaller organizations
- Changing terms and conditions (with cost impacts)
- Annual software and infrastructure updates/cost increases
- SLA limitations that may force further outsourcing
Outsourcing can directly address these challenges — particularly from a cost-benefit standpoint. As TechChannel notes, “In many cases, mainframe systems have had such little attention that companies are wasting resources and money by the minute.” Turning over mainframe management to a third-party partner is an opportunity to create efficiency where companies might otherwise see cost ineffectiveness.
Outsourced benefit 1: improved performance
Outsourcing lets you maintain existing systems while also innovating and upgrading them. This is critical in the current era of rapid tech innovation. Although mainframes are viewed as outdated technology, they might still manage extensive transaction and batch processing. Mainframes undergo technology upgrades and functional enhancements every 2 to 3 years. Keeping them current is essential.
Generally, the cost and time required to overhaul or modernize a mainframe system are prohibitive for many companies. This is because upgrades are often conflated with the idea of replacing the mainframe altogether. Budget restrictions may prevent this, but the OPEX of managed mainframe services, especially in a pay-for-usage model, is much easier to stomach than the constant CAPEX of upgrades or just staying current.
Managed services not only improve mainframe performance, but they can also identify points of concern to avoid downtime or other errors as organizations continue to evolve their critical infrastructure. It’s a recipe for delivering results while forgoing time and costs. Moreover, it provides ongoing access to experts who can continue to offer turnkey support and modernizations to serve the needs of the mainframe over the long term.
Outsourced benefit 2: ongoing maintenance and expertise
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, technology leaders were already declaring the mainframe dead — or at least old news. In 1991, Stewart Alsop predicted the last mainframe would be unplugged by 1996. At the time, many organizations had projects to transition away from mainframes, but many of these projects failed. In any case, this stalwart technology continues to operate with many organizations’ IT ecosystems.
Mainframes aren't going anywhere, but exposure to them has been declining considerably since the 1990s. Today, there’s a growing lack of expertise in the talent pool. Younger IT professionals aren’t being trained on mainframe technology, making future hiring and in-house maintenance difficult. Outsourcing provides direct access to the expertise needed to continue maintaining your mainframes for the long haul, even as your internal mainframe experts age out of the workforce.
Many managed outsourcing providers sponsor and participate in mainframe curricula at local schools, as well as internships for the students.
The beauty of outsourcing vs. hiring is you can tap into this expertise on an as-needed basis. Different types of outsourcing — traditional, partial, onsite, remote, dedicated, and shared — all allow you to use existing resources without worrying about hiring or replacing them. Plus, by rebadging your mainframe staff to the provider, your in-house knowledge is retained.
Outsourced benefit 3: future-proofing your business
Outsourcing is a low-risk endeavor for future-proofing your organization — as long as you choose the right IT partner. While a negative outsourcing experience can be costly to your organization, strong provider partnerships offer expertise, innovation, and resources to benefit and grow your business long into the future.
This is why Windsor Group emphasizes provider “matchmaking” to ensure each provider partnership is the right fit for both parties. 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.
Looking to scale or stabilize your business by upgrading your mainframe systems? Searching for a trusted partner to support and navigate future changes to mainframe compatibility and usage? Windsor Group will make sure your next provider offers the most valuable partnership possible.