Nowadays, business leaders are seeking ways to breathe Cloud-native capabilities into their legacy systems. According to Gartner’s research report, organizations that are planning to migrate legacy workloads to the Cloud might increase Security (66%) and achieve better Governance (60%).

However, many organizations keep working along with years-old outdated systems like IBM AS400. Enterprises whose IT demands are evolving with time should agree with the fact that fixing legacy servers like AS400 is a redundant job. Leading enterprises that run and host mission-critical applications should consider AS400 migration to the Cloud and explore different opportunities.

Running Workloads in AS400 – Not an Ideal Choice

The key problem is that AS400 servers are not an “aging like fine wine” technology. Eventually, AS400 systems cross a cost limit where maintenance seems easier and more cost-effective than migration or replacement. CIOs/CTOs that utilize AS400 systems for hosting enterprise workloads should keep these points in mind:

  • AS400 Administration Won’t Be Budget-Friendly – Organizing workloads in AS400 means enterprises have to pay for configuration, installation, support, network, and hardware services for a longer duration. Moreover, leaders may face difficulty in hiring professionals for the administration and maintenance of AS400 systems.
  • Acquiring More Computing Resources than Need – The computing power’s cost declines with time. Meaning that, when IBM AS400-based organizations want to upgrade their existing servers, the new addition comes with 4X computing capacity in contrast to the older one. Hence, enterprises end up buying the resources that they won’t be utilizing. This can’t be called an intelligent decision.
  • Recovering Workloads from Disaster May Result in Distress – AS400 systems possess traditional disaster-recovery mechanisms like optical drive and magnetic tape. These functionalities take days or even weeks to offer comprehensive backup. Besides, the recovery process can fail for such an extensive duration and leave the organization in a bewildering situation.
  • AS400 SMEs are Retiring – AS400 users are most affected by the challenge of retiring talent. Many organizations are only months away from losing dedicated professionals who are familiar with AS400 infrastructure. Regrettably, universities and institutions are not delivering training to IT specialists about these traditional solutions. But it doesn’t mean there are no professionals on AS400 systems; they are just hard to discover.

To effectively capitalize on the AS400’s flexibility and scalability, most organizations go beyond a simple maintenance approach, instead upgrading them with temporary installations — a strategy that sounds easier but can rapidly become complex.

7 Commendable Advises for AS400 Cloud Migration

Fortunately, migrating workloads from AS400 to a Cloud platform doesn’t have to be a tedious, painful process, as long as tech leaders have practical expectations and are fully equipped to execute the task. To help leaders avoid needless pain and hindrances, consider the following advice from AS400 Cloud migration experts:

  1. Migrate with Purpose

As a tech leader, it’s important to link the AS400 migration project to the business requirement that is being addressed. Whether it’s cost savings, enhanced security, or improving functionality, an enterprise’s migration efforts will be successful only if they know in advance what they want to gain from them. Most leaders undertake modernization initiatives to get in on the modern innovations. Such an approach can result in complications down the road. With a clear understanding of migration purpose and outcomes, business leaders can make a set of plans that meet and solve their requirements.

  1. Build a Three-Step Valuation Framework

For leaders, who are undertaking the AS400 Cloud migration initiative, it’s important to build and stick with a three-step valuation framework.

  • Step 1-Discovery & Assessment – In this stage, leaders need to perform an overall assessment of the current AS400 architecture and technology stack
  • Step 2 – Roadmap Formation – Creating a blueprint that builds a defined path leading to end-goal scenarios is highly important
  • Step 3- Role Distribution – Delegating responsibilities to different stakeholders for the migration of multiple workloads aids in knowledge transfer. It is advisable to include different parties (testing teams, external teams, and support providers) during migration.

Following this simple framework will enhance ROI, accelerate the transition, and enable the workforce to leverage new Cloud-native capabilities. It also removes the barriers to delivering advanced user experiences and performance.

  1. Assess In-house Resources and Partner When Required

Successfully migrating AS400 to Cloud starts with handling the upfront work required to discover the assets and workloads, as well as dependencies, licensing conditions, and business use cases. It necessitates the involvement of stakeholders throughout the organization, not just the IT team. Leaders should also assess whether they have in-house workers, who have expertise in both the AS400 infrastructure and the Cloud. This will enable them to define, build, and execute the optimal migration plan for their business. Given AS400 migration significance, it’s worth looking at dedicated migration partners, who guide the journey and ensure business downtime is reduced during the transition.

  1. Evaluate App Infrastructure Thoroughly

A comprehensive assessment of the existing AS400 system is vital to understand its dependencies, requirements, and ecosystem. Identify applications that can be migrated to the Cloud and implement any necessary alterations before transition. Subsequently, determine the ideally suitable app migration strategy, whether it’s Lift-and-Shift, Refactoring, Re-platforming, or Rebuilding the product from scratch. Experts should select the strategy that best suits their objectives, timeline, and resources.

  1. Plan for the Lasting Benefits

52% of industry experts believe that choosing an uninterrupted, modular strategy provides an effective migration path. They also cite that most initial AS400 migration projects drive adopters onto a lasting transition path, enabling enterprises to progressively align with vital technology and business objectives. What’s not effective is following a one-size-fits-all standardized migration approach that forces enterprise applications to align in lockstep.

Similarly, experts recommend that rebuilding an AS400 application from scratch is a time-consuming option. This approach randomly meets objectives and might easily fail due to overspending or massive time investments. The best approach for AS400 migration is Re-hosting, where the first step could consist of de-risking and integrating new functionalities and KPIs.

  1. Prioritize Delivery Speed

Given the several strategies, it’s important to leverage a holistic technique to address not only present migration initiatives but also alignment with future complexities. Tech leaders should consider partnering with AS400 migration to Cloud service providers to get insights on Cloud transformation and use advanced techniques and tools, such as Cloud-native accelerators, DevSecOps, IaC (Infrastructure as Code), and more. Leveraging these helps businesses embrace a multipronged migration approach and speedy application delivery.

Let’s look at a popular use case of how migration from AS400 to Cloud improved delivery speed:

Betabrand, a retail clothing eCommerce giant has been using IBM AS400 since 2005 for rendering their online services. They started encountering maintenance problems and a lack of flexibility in the AS400 infrastructure hosting their operations. After planning, they decided that migrating to Cloud can be an effective way to drive scalability.

By associating with a reputable migration firm, they were able to instantly build a replica of their migration.  After migrating workloads to Cloud infrastructure, we can easily scale and avoid downtime and keep customers happy.

The delivery speed of our eCommerce application has been increased to 95%, says, Justin Rose, Chief Technical Officer.

  1. Fragmenting AS400 App Components

Migrating enterprise applications from AS400 to Cloud is challenging, especially for digital leaders organizing the assignment for the first time. Though refactoring is highly advisable, it demands significant time and resources. That’s why breaking down the monolithic AS400 application components into minor, more scalable microservices is beneficial.

The process is less time-consuming and makes the AS400 application more flexible and Cloud-friendly. Microservices offered by Cloud platforms allow leaders to build, test, deploy, and scale components easily, making the whole migration process more efficient. In addition, using Kubernetes and Docker stimulates containerization and further enhances the AS400 app’s scalability making it platform-independent.

Closing Thoughts

AS400 migration is not an easy peasy responsibility! Leaders must evaluate the active AS400 system’s performance and optimize it to offer better business value. This is best achieved through Cloud-based migration. To take the AS400 migration further, enterprises either need a team of technology specialists or work with a third-party migration partner. In response to the fast-paced evolution, enterprises need an AS400 migration partner who effectively innovates and works collaboratively to achieve objectives.