Application Modernization: Retiring the University’s Mainframe

ASMP 2.0’s Application Modernization team is coordinating and supporting the University-wide effort to transition more than 1,000 applications off the University mainframe.

Rich Janes is the ASMP 2.0 Application Modernization Lead and oversees a team that is working with Colleges, Schools, and Units (CSUs) across campus to find modern cloud-based or on-premise solutions to their mainframe applications.

“We have had a set of tools that have served us really well over the years, but in order to continue to push our applications forward and be in-line with trends in our industry, the University needs to move off of the mainframe,” said Janes. “By moving into the cloud we will have access to more modern tools and greater flexibility than we experience now.”

According to Janes, the timing is right for the University to move its applications into the cloud.

“Right now cloud computing is maturing and is on the upswing,” said Janes. “We want to be able to take advantage of this technology now.”

The first task performed by the Application Modernization team was to collect an inventory of all applications on the mainframe.

“Many mainframe applications have a web interface, so people may not be aware that they have a significant hook into the mainframe,” said Janes. “Some examples would be the online course schedule; WORQS, which is used by facility services; or Financial Resource Management System (FRMS).”

The team is also working with many CSUs to create roadmaps for how their applications can be retired from the mainframe.

“Some applications will be replaced by Workday, which is replacing our current human resources, payroll, and financial systems,” said Janes. “Those applications for the most part can just be retired. But for all other, non-student, administrative applications, CSUs need a plan for sourcing and purchasing or for building a new solution.”

The Application Modernization team is available to provide CSUs with guidance on things like Texas state law compliance, security reviews, and accessibility standards for potential new applications. The team also provides tips on working with vendors and helps CSUs with like needs come together to get group contracts instead of sourcing applications on an individual basis.

“For example, we have the Event Registration Collaborative Group, which comprises many CSUs on campus that host events,” said Janes. “Through our inventory we were able to see that multiple CSUs were all looking for a new event registration system at the same time. By participating in this collaborative group, these CSUs may be able to find a solution that fits all of their needs under a group license, potentially generating some cost savings.”

For more information on the Application Modernization project, visit their webpage on the ASMP 2.0 website.

By: Kerri Battles 

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