The Business Case for Automated Modernizaiton with TSRI

Perhaps you’ve seen your competition pull ahead. Maybe your customers have become frustrated with their experience as they interact with your systems. Possibly, you’ve even experienced a security breach. You know your legacy systems need to move into the 21st century, and perhaps you’re struggling to decide how to move forward. Whether you want to face it or not, now is the time to take a hard look at modernizing your digital infrastructure.

According to, “while there may be a multitude of reasons for a business to undergo digital transformation, it mostly boils down to survival. Digital transformation can be risky and expensive, so it’s often a necessity for businesses that want to survive and outlast the ones that failed to evolve.”

And then there’s the expense: Daniel Newman at The Future of Work suggests that as much as 80 percent of an IT budget can be spent on maintenance. Modernizing legacy systems—even incrementally—can help a company see its capabilities leap forward by using the cloud to integrate automation into standard business processes. John Brandon at suggests that “some of the most disruptive technologies—such as machine learning, voice bots like Amazon Alexa, and artificial intelligence—are helping to automate mundane tasks and improve how a business runs.”

These technologies run on data. In this new era of computing, the businesses that truly succeed will be the ones that put an emphasis on their data. If they haven’t already, legacy systems with limitations on their data will fall behind, especially when introducing machine learning and AI into the mix. At the same time, the data and infrastructure that have kept older systems going for so long can’t just be switched off, and freezing the systems as teams write and develop its replacement will push customers away.

Modernization effectively overcomes these risks to your organization by opening up the possibilities that an older codebase wasn't designed to handle.

“Taking inventory of what still works and what doesn’t allows companies to identify which processes are no longer relevant,” writes Newman. “Only applications deemed critical to business are then modernized; the others are simply retired, saving time and money on maintenance.”

When you decide to replace or reconfigure your legacy system, you can decide between any of these modernization options:

New Application Development. Replicate your legacy system by writing entirely new code. Your team will manually develop your new system using current coding practices with modern interfaces, and support for current technologies. This option is very expensive option, and it’s generally only usable to set a baseline for future development. You’ll incur expenses that can be as high as the original project, risk levels are similar to a typical “waterfall” project, and there are high likelihoods of time and budget overruns.

Extend/Surround. Many organizations currently opt for this method. The development teams or consultants encapsulate the legacy system in coding containers that provide APIs and tack-on integration with other systems. While the solution may work, you will have a patchwork of code, often in multiple programming languages, that gradually increases technical debt and incurs added maintenance costs. While this situation defers replacement, it will likely be costly in the long run.

COTS/SaaS. Both common off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions or cloud-based SaaS systems enable you to migrate to a less expensive and more modern architecture, but costs can easily escalate. The new system will require customization and ongoing licensing costs. Such a migration could create ripple effects on other systems and cause you to incur other costs from conforming to a completely new platform with unknown attributes.

Automated Modernization. A careful translation of code by a team of expert external engineers creates a new, modern application based upon the logic and behavior of the original. The process will include varying degrees of automation, which increases accuracy while decreasing costs. Modernization will likely incur the least risk and expense of any of these options.

Replacement of aging systems is becoming increasingly urgent, and as programmers of many of these older systems retire, replacement costs will continue to rise. An automated modernization program will likely yield the least expensive and most flexible alternative for stable, long-term performance.



TSRI is Here for You

As a leading provider of software modernization services, TSRI enables technology readiness for the cloud and other modern architecture environments. We bring software applications into the future quickly, accurately, and efficiently with low risk and minimal business disruption, accomplishing in months what would otherwise take years.

See Case Studies

Learn About Our Technology

Get started on your modernization journey today!

Standish Group, “Modernization: Clearing a Pathway to Success,” 2010

Mainframe Modernization Brings Agility and Peace of Mind

Mainframes are big. Mainframes are powerful. Mainframes continue to run an enormous number of critical applications. Even as today’s enterprise infrastructures gravitate toward the cloud and newer languages, according to Allied Market Research, the market for mainframes will continue to grow through at least 2025 and legacy languages such as COBOL are still in wide use. The actual amount of processing performed by mainframes continues to grow steadily each year as a result of increasing demands, more users, and new applications reliant upon data stored on mainframes.

Modernize Now, Plan for the Future

While the capacity and processing power of a mainframe remains attractive to enterprise companies and governments alike, there are drawbacks: when it comes to agility, mainframes cannot quickly adjust to the needs of a business. They cannot quickly scale to meet extraordinary events. It’s difficult to integrate business-intelligence tools for non-engineers to easily access the data they need. Mainframes often don’t have the automated security tools to mitigate a security breach before it causes extensive damage.

At the same time, as each year passes, more experts that can maintain the older, legacy languages like COBOL and PL/1 are retiring. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the availability of programmers reached crisis proportions when overtaxed unemployment systems in some U.S. states couldn’t keep up with demand. Most younger software engineers train and work in newer, evolving languages that support web technologies and the cloud.

Still, even as many of these enterprise organizations are strongly considering moving operations and processes to the cloud, such migrations can take years, and they may not abandon their mainframes entirely. But they still need the agility, access, and security of a modern system to remain competitive.

So, what can these organizations do? They can modernize.

A modernization effort is often targeted not only at the mainframe itself, but at older language programs that run these massive machines. These programs, often written in now-archaic languages without consideration for internet connectivity or cloud computing, often need to change to meet the organization’s current needs for accessibility, customer experience, and security compliance. These requirements are universal to modernization efforts of any kind, but not all forms of modernization are adept at meeting all the requirements. The modernization strategy your organization selects needs to consider the resources you have available, your timelines, and what your ideal outcome looks like.


Choosing a Modernization Strategy

Mainframe modernization does not have to mean eliminating the mainframe. Organizations can utilize a number of different modernization strategies that meet different demands at varying cost and risk levels. Some possibilities include:

  1. Gradual integration: On an as-needed basis, organizations can use automation to modernize older applications through incremental improvement and build new applications on the mainframe that fit into a state-of-the-art computing environment.
  2. Retire, Retain, Replace, Rehost or Re-envision: An organization will assess legacy applications and systems on an individual basis and decide what should be retained, what can be rewritten, and what should be replaced with a new, modern application that can be hosted in a new environment such as the cloud.
  3. Lift and shift: Rebuild current mainframe applications on a new platform, then integrate the with mainframe applications and data sources across platforms.
  4. Automated Transformation: AAdedicated team assesses existing applications created in common languages such as COBOL or Fortran, or even less-common languages like PL/1 and MUMPS, then uses automated processes to translate the legacy application to the desired modern language (e.g., Java is a very common target). Organizations can then migrate to an upgraded mainframe or rehost them in the cloud. At the same time, a wider range of programmers can work with the modernized applications and more easily incorporate them into new databases and services.

Each approach varies depending upon business requirements, budget, and modernization schedule. Regardless, before beginning any process, an organization’s business and technical teams need to define their objectives and scope.

Gain Security & Competitive Advantage

Whether your organization is ready to move out of a mainframe environment or not, modernized code provides the security and peace of mind that your critical applications can be maintained and evolved as needed to support the business over time. As the Covid crisis and associated economic pressures have forced businesses of every size to accelerate modernizing their legacy systems, organization leaders have realized they can no longer wait to maintain their security and competitive advantage.

While some organizations may choose to do a wholesale migration, most companies and government agencies will opt to modernize using a more gradual approach. Either way – and whether an organization stays on their mainframe, moves to the cloud, or develops a hybrid solution – a modernization will ensure they can have the digital and human resources to sustain their operations far into the future.


TSRI is Here for You

As a leading provider of software modernization services, TSRI enables technology readiness for the cloud and other modern architecture environments. We bring software applications into the future quickly, accurately, and efficiently with low risk and minimal business disruption, accomplishing in months what would otherwise take years.

See Case Studies

Learn About Our Technology

Get started on your modernization journey today!

Cloud Migration & Containerization

With over 74% of server workloads now running in virtual environments, containers provide consolidation benefits by permitting application instances to be stacked in larger virtual machines. Containerization improves efficiency, security, and software licensing. It reduces complexity and ensures application portability among other benefits. To take advantage of these possibilities, applications must be modernized to externalize APIs and microservices. It is also important to ensure proper function within a containerized environment. Modernization transforms legacy applications to operate efficiently, reliably, and securely within the new environment with identical performance to the original application.

AWS Names TSRI as a Launch Partner for Mainframe Migration

At AWS re:Invent 2020, Amazon Web Services (AWS) unveiled plans for a new “Mainframe Migration Competency” and announced that TSRI has been identified as a launch partner! AWS recognized that TSRI’s solution — which provides near-100% automation and cloud-specific refactoring — are a huge benefit for organizations seeking reliable, low-risk, and rapid migration to the cloud. Furthermore, TSRI’s proven track record, which includes hundreds of successful modernization projects over more than 25 years, meant that TSRI would be a reliable and knowledgeable technology partner for AWS customers.



“Recognizing the complexity of a mainframe migration, our customers seek proven methodologies, tools, and best practices to empower successful migrations. The AWS Partner Network (APN) plays a critical role in these efforts by providing proven technology products and services for customers’ mainframe migrations.”


TSRI’s model-based solution transforms even very large (tens of millions of lines of code) legacy systems written in languages like COBOL, Fortran, PowerBuilder, Ada, MUMPS, VB6, and more than 30 other languages, into modern applications in cloud-native target architectures. The output is a modern multi-tier application that takes advantage of cloud utilities and scalability.

Now is the time to modernize for the cloud. According to AWS, “more than 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies still run business-critical applications on mainframes, and many companies and institutions still possess legacy mainframes in their data centers. As a result of constantly evolving customer needs, the demand for modernization has accelerated as companies require increased agility to meet those needs.

“Due to the slow development cycle of mainframes, more companies are migrating to the cloud to enable rapid development and innovation. Furthermore, as mainframe subject matter experts retire and leave the workforce, these companies face an increasing skills gap.

“Coupled with high upgrade and development costs and expensive usage fees, CIOs with mainframes they must maintain are well aware of the business risks to their enterprise. As a result, a growing number of companies are looking to modernize and migrate their mainframe workloads to Amazon Web Services. These migrations enable companies to realize business benefits like an average 70 percent savings in IT infrastructure costs.”

See the AWS blog for more.

We’re excited to start the modernization journey with any organization looking to get off their mainframe and on to AWS! Learn more about how TSRI can help you transform your technology quickly and seamlessly, ensuring you and your application users can make the most of what cloud technologies have to offer.



TSRI is Here for You

As a leading provider of software modernization services, TSRI enables technology readiness for the cloud and other modern architecture environments. We bring software applications into the future quickly, accurately, and efficiently with low risk and minimal business disruption, accomplishing in months what would otherwise take years.

See Case Studies

Learn About Our Technology

Get started on your modernization journey today!


U.S. Department of Defense Mainframe COBOL to Java on AWS

On behalf of a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) client, our multi-company team—comprised of staff from ARRAY, NTT Data, TSRI, and Datum—delivered a successful modernization of a COBOL-based system running on aged mainframes to a Java-based system running on x86 Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

The goals were to introduce agility, reduce costs, modernize the technical stack, and enhance security by leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS). We did this using automated code conversion tools and techniques while maintaining all functionality, screens, and reports.