Why Organizations are Entrusting Microsoft Cloud with their Mainframes
Published May 18 2022 05:53 AM 5,865 Views
Brass Contributor

There is a resurgence of interest and renewed priority to transform core enterprise systems. This resurgence is largely driven by rapidly shifting workforce dynamics such as retirement, the pandemic, hybrid work models and the necessity of businesses and governments to adapt to these changes at speed. Other factors, such as elimination of technical debt, data center rationalization and the move to cloud are also important contributors to the prioritization of core system transformation. These challenges are common to most businesses and governments. So how are these organizations benefiting from Microsoft Cloud for mainframe transformation?


Many customers have a significant investment in Microsoft Cloud, which commonly includes Active Directory, Office 365, Teams, Windows, SQL Server, and Azure, but there are so many more offerings in the Microsoft ecosystem that deliver significant, differentiating, value to help customers transform their core systems, and their business processes. Among others, these offerings include: security and compliance, identity and access management, collaboration and business applications, hybrid cloud, and data and application development. Combined, these capabilities complement core transformation by addressing not only mainframe transformation but the entirety of an organization’s digital strategy and IT needs. A few highlights follow.


Core enterprise systems are the heartbeat of businesses and governments around the world. They are essential systems that provide lifesaving services, process the vast majority of the world’s financial transactions and provide many other mission critical functions. Microsoft embraces these realities by providing incredibly robust and world-class security capabilities and over 90 compliance frameworks, backed by attestations and certifications such as SOC 2 Type 2, FedRAMP, DoD ILx, HITRUST, PCI DSS and dozens of other government, industry, regional, and global certifications. Additionally, Purview Compliance Manager provides customers the ability to directly assess, score, and improve their compliance posture. Microsoft Defender and Sentinel, along with other security products, provide threat visibility and a broad range of protection for endpoints, identity, applications, network, infrastructure, and data, across Microsoft Cloud, hybrid and multi-cloud.


Microsoft directory services is the de facto world leader in identity and access management. In Azure alone there are 550 million named accounts in the directory database and the number of accounts on premises is even larger. As customers consume additional cloud services these directories will integrate, and account volume will increase. Considering the volume of named users and the maturity and reliability of Active Directory, imagine the peace of mind knowing that all your public and hybrid cloud services can be subject to established security controls and governance. Taking this a step further, as you migrate mainframe data to Azure SQL, for

example, or modernize application languages and migrate those applications to run in the cloud, identify and access controls and governance are already in place. Microsoft Active Directory provides the identity and access “wrapper” around all Microsoft Cloud services, protecting core business applications and data as they are migrated to or built in the cloud.


While cost savings through mainframe transformation is nearly always a customer expectation, improving the ability to quickly adapt to shifting demands is a priority for many organizations. Whether the organization is a commercial one in a highly competitive landscape or a government entity servicing constituents, the ability to transform business processes is becoming essential. Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 are two examples of collaboration and business product suites that help customers drive transformation and innovation. For example, Teams, part of Microsoft 365, was integrated with healthcare IT systems and used by provider organizations during the height of the COVID pandemic to automate healthcare workflows and hold virtual healthcare visits. In another example, Dynamics 365 is being used by financial organizations to create new applications and integrate with core systems to deliver more personalized banking services. These simple examples are intended to highlight how various Microsoft offerings, that some people would consider outside of the traditional mainframe landscape, are used in creative and innovative ways to integrate with, replace or complement current mainframe-based business processes. Microsoft encourages customers to engage in “art of the possible” or “vision” workshops to learn how the full capability of the Microsoft portfolio can bring vision to reality.


Referring back to the criticality of core systems, Microsoft also appreciates that, while some customers desire to fully exit the mainframe by migrating to cloud, other customers are, for various reasons, retaining or minimizing their mainframe footprint. Microsoft is deeply experienced and fully supportive of these retained scenarios as evidenced by our product history that includes, for example, Host Integration Services and data connector products, such as SSIS and DRDA, which were developed to integrate with and extend the mainframe landscape into Azure. For mainframes remaining on-premises, hybrid cloud offerings such as Azure Stack HCI and hardware independent Azure ARC complement the integrate and extend approach by providing centrally managed localized compute, network, and storage. In the case of Azure Stack HCI and ARC, pre-existing global or regional security policies can be extended to the customer’s data center via the Azure control plane (Azure Resource Manager).


Microsoft SQL is one of the most widely used databases in the world with decades of success and investment and is a popular target for mainframe Db2 and IMS migrations. Contributing to the success of these migrations are numerous Microsoft data migration accelerator products, available today, as well as a growing library of migration accelerators being purpose built to support additional mainframe database types. Microsoft also has a rich and successful application development portfolio made possible through products such as Visual Studio, C#, and .NET, and widely embraces enterprise languages of choice, including Java, Python, Javascript and more. These core technologies are central to many mainframe transformations. The products are mature, highly invested, and continuously improved with new features to simplify and accelerate the migration of data and applications to cloud. Cosmos DB, another Microsoft data platform, is gaining popularity as a target for mainframe VSAM files and Power Apps, a low-code platform, is gaining use as a development platform to, for example, build modern user experiences while using data still residing on the mainframe. Of course, while mainframe data migration to cloud is important, the value breakthrough is the use of analytical services such as Synapse Analytics capabilities to gain insight and Power BI for visualization.


As much as the Microsoft portfolio is broad, different, and comprehensive, it is partners who make transformation possible. Microsoft has established a robust network of highly specialized mainframe and business transformation partners; each bringing unique capabilities and solutions to address virtually every complexity in mainframe landscapes. This diverse set of partners enables Microsoft to offer customers unbiased guidance that is grounded on best customer outcomes. Complementing these partners are the Microsoft account teams, with existing relationships and who advocate for customers to ensure the success of transformation projects.


So, why should your organization trust Microsoft for mainframe modernization? It starts with Microsoft transformation principles, which are grounded on customer outcomes; it is about understanding the strategic business and technology of our customers and commitment to develop smart, holistic, solutions for the best possible customer outcome. What follows are substantial and differentiating Microsoft technologies including security and compliance, identity and access management, collaboration and business applications, hybrid cloud, and data and application development, all complemented and supported by a global partner and account management ecosystem, along with Microsoft Engineering resources. Of course, customers should also know that Microsoft has been transforming mainframes for over ten years, and is fiercely committed to helping address cost, labor, agility and other mainframe challenges by bringing together Microsoft assets and experience, partners, and our energy and commitment.


If you’d like to learn more, please contact us at: mainframetransformed@microsoft.com

Version history
Last update:
‎May 18 2022 05:52 AM
Updated by: