If your company invests in technology and operations to drive cost efficiency and eliminate duplication, you aren’t alone. IT organizations are under constant pressure to reduce spending. According to a February 2011 CA Technologies survey of 225 mainframe customers, 75 percent said reducing IT costs was their top objective for 2011. Companies today are looking for ways to facilitate additional investments by increasing operational efficiency.
Mainframe customers have, for several years, been reducing the number of vendors they work with. These shops want to reduce costs, but at an acceptable level of risk. Lowering the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) requires a solid understanding of current and projected product acquisition, operating, and maintenance costs.
The most widespread reason organizations pursue mainframe software rationalization projects is to reduce the software maintenance run rate. Other reasons include to simplify management, improve security, integrate acquired companies, increase product functionality, and improve ease-of-use.
As examined here, certain best practices for mainframe software rationalization can help maximize your cost savings and support IT service levels equal to or greater than levels before the conversion.
Rationalization Project Starting Point
To start, identify your business, application, and infrastructure requirements. The most successful rationalization projects clearly define the scope, requirements, and objectives for product functionality, IT service levels, and cost savings. A seasoned project manager will define the project scope and project plan, and clearly link project goals with strategic goals.
The cornerstones of good project management are the three “D’s”: dollars, dates, and deliverables. To deliver projects on time and on budget, the project manager will also develop a detailed project plan and schedule to meet the business, application, and infrastructure requirements, including user acceptance criteria.
Once you have identified your requirements, it’s critical to document your existing IT and application infrastructure, including operational costs and business value. You could accomplish this pre-conversion discovery and analysis by interviewing different stakeholders and documenting your findings. However, given the complexity of today’s IT environments, a manual discovery process will fail to uncover significant features of your IT environment. Most stakeholders are primarily aware of IT services in their areas of responsibility and may not identify some of the dependencies in areas that have been successfully running “under the radar” for years. Omissions can greatly increase project risk.
You need a more sophisticated approach that uses automated discovery tools that map your IT and application infrastructure and identify the installed and executing set of software products and the IT services those products support. Analysis tools can provide detailed visibility into how often applications are run, how widely they’re deployed, and which IT applications and services they support. These tools need to scan System Management Facility (SMF) data, Job Control Language (JCL) libraries, procedure libraries, and control cards to identify jobs, procs, and control cards that use software products from supporting vendors. Using discovery and analysis tools reduces the cost and time of conducting the initial assessment, provides transparency, and increases the accuracy of conversion estimates, improving the probability the conversion project will succeed.
Capture as much insight into the complexity of the migration as you can during this discovery and analysis phase. Review with your vendor the linkages between the IT services you provide and the IT infrastructure you plan to rationalize. This review is vital; it helps you and your replacement vendor identify potential migration and business risks and assess the ability to accurately perform a technical conversion for a given rationalization project.