How to Successfully Modernize Mainframe Banking Applications
Modernization| by Jerry Rackley

Many of the world’s largest banks run core banking systems on the IBM System Z platform under CICS. These applications process millions or hundreds of millions of transactions daily where high-performance and high availability is imperative. In today’s hybrid application environment, these legacy applications must also participate in enterprise digital transformation and hybrid cloud strategies. While making legacy applications available through various integration techniques, often screen scraping, many enterprises have accumulated a lot of technical debt and clutter. The use of macros, automations, and other integrations between the mainframe and everything outside the mainframe can slow transaction response times and over consume mainframe CPU resources. An excellent way to modernize mainframe banking applications is through building robust, modern, high throughput APIs. This approach is the key to enabling rapid modernization, lowering costs, and keeping change management risk to a minimum.

Key Problems and Goals

A number of drivers are at work in journey to modernize mainframe banking applications:

  • Digital transformation is accelerating. This means that an increasing number of systems need to interact in real or near-real time with core banking functions such as retail accounts, loans, insurance.
  • Omni-channel service delivery is necessary for banks to successfully compete. They must consistently deliver all their services across many channels such as in person, telephone, online, or through mobile apps. The need to provide omni-channel service requires cross-system integration to central customer account data and transactional systems that run on the mainframe. These systems still run on the mainframe for a reason: it can securely process hundreds of millions of transactions per day.
  • Efficiency is paramount to manage operating cost. An important performance metric is the bank efficiency ratio. Optimizing infrastructure is an effective way to improve this key measure.

HostBridge CEO Russ Teubner discusses the drivers, challenges, barriers, and approaches for modernizing legacy banking applications:

Three keys to Mainframe API success

Using the the right API approach helps modernization efforts in the following ways:

  1. Mainframe Utilization – Modernization efforts should start by evaluating performance and utilization of mainframe resources. It’s particularly important to use tools and processes to examine the interactions that occur between mainframe and non-mainframe applications. This analysis helps banks understand how to score quick, easy wins by optimizing hybrid interactions and the resources they consume. Understanding how business processes consume resources is the first step to identifying unnecessary network and mainframe traffic and save infrastructure costs.
  2. Focused modernization with APIs – Implementing business level APIs that can act as a strategic pivot point for all enterprise systems reduces the complexity and risk of modernization. The loose coupling of systems an API provides allows modernization to proceed incrementally and with dramatically lowered risk. At the same time, API-based modernization allows the realization of results at a faster pace, through simpler deployments, and with incremental, measurable, results.
  3. Moving automation to the mainframe – The use of higher level, business level APIs enable process automation to run on the mainframe, where it eliminates network latency, and is unaffected by changes to user-facing applications. With the mainframe’s processing ability, implementing a business level API on top of an orchestration engine that runs in CICS creates a more efficient, high-performance automation process. An additional benefit to this approach is the separation of user-experience functions from automation logic. This separation shortens and takes risk out of the development and deployment process for user-facing applications.

HostBridge offers a free eBook, “Using APIs for CICS Modernization” that describes this approach in detail and will help you leverage APIs in your modernization efforts. To learn how HostBridge can help you leverage APIs in your modernization efforts, just reach out using the contact information found at the bottom of this page.

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