Anthony Maiello, Chief Technologist and Senior Vice President of Shared Services Development at Sabre Holdings Corporation, explained how to remove the fear factor from the prospect of mainframe transformation.
Maiello began his keynote presentation at the 2017 Chief Information Officer Leadership Forum held in Dallas on February 9 by talking about fear—the fear of moving off the mainframe. “I’ve heard people say that heart transplants are easier than mainframe transformation. I’m here to tell you, it’s not that difficult. There are many reasons I hear for the resistance to this transformation—the mainframe is reliable, available, and serviceable; messing with it is risky; we don’t know how to work with anything else. Ironically, the main reason for doing a mainframe transformation is to reduce risk. In today’s changing world of software and applications, the mainframe isn’t agile enough.”
Reasons for considering a mainframe transformation include:
• Lowers total cost of ownership. “Purchasing a mainframe is far more expensive than buying a server.”
• Operating in an open system results in a 50% to 60% lower cost.
• Allows performance and scalability improvements to increase volume. A distributed system architecture is able to scale faster than a mainframe.
• Adds flexibility to support changing business needs. “Distributed environments are optimized for making changes fast and getting to market quickly.”
• Eliminates legacy systems and associated risks related to obsolescence.
• Offers advantages in terms of staffing. “Finding the vanishing skill sets related to mainframes is becoming difficult.”
• Supports mobile, data and analytics, and social media. “This is possible to do in mainframe but it requires a lot of work, which translates to cost, time, and time to market.”
“Finding the vanishing skill sets related to mainframes is becoming difficult.”
Given all these compelling reasons for mainframe transformation, why isn’t everyone doing this? The answer is, resistance. “We need to be able to articulate why and how to do this, and address the fear factor. The key is leadership,” said Maiello. “If you don’t have the right leadership—usually the CIO or CTO—who has high energy, thick skin (to withstand attacks), intelligence around the domain, and high integrity (transparency is critical)—this won’t work.”
Maeillo spelled out the ABCs of what’s necessary for the success of the process:
A. Sponsors, clear business case, and benefits. “Sponsors need to be business partners, key customers, executives, or people in the company with a lot of credibility to support the business case,” he explained. “It’s necessary to thoroughly evaluate the mainframe and make clear why it’s no longer viable for the business. The business case drives benefits, which must guide all decisions and be clearly articulated.”
B. Clear plan and migration approach. This requires clear communication with management. “This is the most critical step in the process and the one that most often leads to failure of the process. Make sure the plan isn’t over-engineered.” Maiello advised not making adjustments and upgrades to the mainframe but converting to an open environment if at all possible.
C. Clear ownership with a commitment to cost and timeline. “This process needs to be regarded as a project, not a technical effort that doesn’t need to be project managed. Don’t make this mistake,” warned Maiello. “Make sure you’ve got owners of every single moving part of the system.”
“This process needs to be regarded as a project, not a technical effort that doesn’t need to be project managed. Make sure you’ve got owners of every single moving part of the system.”
D. Assign and engage experts (in-house or off-site)—in domain, industry, SOA, and Cloud as well as solution architects focused on target state and migration approach expertise.
E. Leverage your existing capabilities to manage risk. Leverage your process (synchronize migration with production), technology, tools (code conversion), scripts and testing, and code delivery.
F. Ensure you have world-class support and incident management. “Everybody is looking for this not to work, so if there’s an incident, it has to be fixed. This removes the fear factor.”
G. Be able to measure payoff and benefits—specifically, IT cost savings, development productivity, system performance and quality, and flexibility and scalability leading to growth. “You need to show progress in each of these four things every three months.”
Maiello noted the following specific payoffs resulting from mainframe transformation:
• Open-system architecture provides cost and development savings.
• Simpler architecture provides greater stability and faster MTTR.
• Provides new business opportunities.
• No chatter and no MIPS cost.
ABOUT ANTHONY MAIELLO:
As SVP and Chief Technologist, Anthony is responsible for aligning technology vision and execution with business strategy by integrating company processes with the appropriate technologies. He directs the engineering of Shared Services development and implementation of technology initiatives within the organization. With over 30 years experience in the technology industry, Maiello is responsible for managing Sabre technology decisions around shared services vision, engineering, support, and architecture. His team leads development for all critical, backend products and various advanced technology programs.
Before joining Sabre Holdings in 2014, Maiello was Chief Information and Technology officer at Sterling Talent Solutions for three years, delivering world-class enterprise systems and solutions for the background screening industry. Prior to Sterling, Maiello was GM of Systems Engineering at GE Energy Services for over eight years, where he directed systems development for Smart Grid and power plants with an eye toward innovation, simplicity, and eco-imagination. Maiello was also Officer and Vice President of Technology and Quality Assurance for Pittway Corporation of Honeywell, where he led design and development of residential and commercial video and security systems. Prior to joining Honeywell in 1999, Maiello was Officer and Vice president of Technology, Quality Assurance, and Technical Support for Prestige Software of Computer Associates where he led applications engineering for the financial industry. Maiello also held positions of Engineering, Architecture, and Director for Reuters, managing enterprise real-time and historical news systems. Maiello started his engineering career in 1984 as a Software Engineer for General Dynamics, designing and developing missile control systems and submarine simulators.
Maiello participates in several associations, including serving as chairman of the board for the Smart Grid Society of the Technology Association of Georgia, is a member of the International Council of Systems Engineering (INCOSE), and keynote speaks at several Engineering and Science seminars and universities such as IEEE, MIT, and Georgia Tech. Maiello held leadership positions on the Technology Association of Georgia Board of Directors, and is a member of the Cobb Chamber. He’s received numerous high-profile and prestigious recognitions including the GE Edison, TAG Leadership, and GE Leadership awards. Maiello also acts as technical advisor for several technology departments and companies. He volunteered with Boy Scouts of America, the Official Little League, Federated American Baseball League, and various church functions and United Way charities.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Engineering and Mathematics from Manhattan College in New York City. Anthony is married with three children.