Need for Infrastructure Modernization with Full COBOL Code Reuse
Partnering with local leaders to positively impact and enhance the quality of life in the State’s communities, this government agency manages vital programs to help address critical community needs and services. Its IT infrastructure consisted of COBOL-based solutions deployed in an IBM AS/400 data center with associated operating costs.
The agency’s IT Director explains the issue at hand: “New applications are developed to reside on modern cloud platforms, and we need to integrate our core applications with our enterprise solutions. The code within the AS/400 applications was not optimized and was overly complex. We struggled to support the code and desired functionality because of undocumented and compound programming. Overall, we recognize that our AS/400 platform no longer conforms with our modern IT services and functions and so we looked for a change.
Our agency heavily relies on our COBOL based solutions and with over 250,000 lines of COBOL code, we want to make sure decades of business practice, data integrity, and business processes aren’t lost in the process of technological change. We needed to replatform the applications while retaining essential application knowledge and operational capacity. A shift to a proactive development approach allowed us to optimize these applications for enterprise projects.”
Successful Migration from AS/400 to Windows
Exploring different options led the agency’s IT team to Micro Focus. Micro Focus Visual COBOL is designed to transform core business systems written in COBOL using modern technologies, such as .NET. The combination of Visual COBOL and expert guidance from Micro Focus Professional Services offered a best practice rehosting pathway. The turnkey Micro Focus solution moved the agency’s applications from AS/400 to a cost-effective Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure, leveraging .NET. This preserved and reused existing business logic and most of the application code and data components were migrated as is. Any new applications are easily integrated using standard API technology. In the same project, the DB2/400 databases were all converted to Microsoft SQL Server, making the data easily accessible for all relevant applications via Micro Focus Database Connectors.
Visual COBOL Delivers 60% Development Productivity Improvement and Many Other Benefits
The migration project took just over six months and resulted in the decommissioning of the AS/400 system. This directly led to a 45 percent operational cost reduction and full ROI on the Micro Focus investment. More importantly though, it revolutionized the development effort with a move towards DevOps and agile operations. “Our developers can resolve any application issues much faster, leveraging the user-friendly Visual Studio environment,” comments the IT Director. “We calculate a development productivity increase of 60 percent: moving to a .NET environment means we now take workloads that could consume weeks and months down to just hours and days. In addition, there is a clear separation of source and production systems, and a single development view identifies all programs across any application. We can address the full scope of the solution and optimize with a far more flexible IDE than was available to us on the AS/400."
Eliminating Technical Debt while Reducing Management Risk
The organization resolved the technical debt of aging IT systems and modernized development with Visual COBOL and AWS. This creates a consistent and unified development collaboration in a high-performance environment. The agency is delighted with the results, as stated by its IT Business Solutions Manager: “This is an impressive feat on multiple levels, both from a technology and business perspective. I’m most proud of the teamwork and commitment. The journey of the past six months has inevitably given us various challenges, but they’ve been met and overcome with perseverance and professionalism.”
The IT Director concludes: “This great example of everyone working together to achieve a common goal goes down as a major success in our history."