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During the past 30 plus years many companies have deployed mainframe applications designed to run in flat file, indexed file or hierarchical database structures to organize application data. But as technology evolved, relational database management systems (RDBMSs) have largely replaced these pre-relational databases as the preferred choice by information technology departments. As a result, many organizations now run a mix of pre-relational and relational systems and are looking for a way to migrate their remaining applications to RDBMSs.

According to an August 2005 Gartner report, Pre-Relational Mainframe DBMS Market Continues to Decline, “The useful life of pre-relational mainframe database management system engines is coming to an end because of a diminishing application and skills base, and increasing costs. Develop a five-year plan, at minimum, to migrate to other DBMS engines.”

Organizations running applications on pre-relational databases should consider migrating to RDBMSs. Some of the reasons include pre-relational’s inability to support newer technologies like Java, J2EE, VisualBasic and C++; the high cost of supporting aging applications; and the increased performance and flexibility of RDBMSs.

Application migration is not a simple task. It is a project that requires the people involved in the migration effort to have in-depth familiarity with the old technology, the new technology and how they map into each other. Therefore, a manual application migration can be complex, time-consuming and error-prone. It is nearly impossible to maintain consistency throughout the full job. Therefore, automated tools have been developed to perform technology-related source-to-target migrations. A good tool can be mapped and adjusted to accommodate multiple writers and styles. If you have pre-relational database implementations running on your mainframes and are considering embarking on a migration effort to a RDBMS, consider two topics in advance of the project: your company’s administrative resources and technical understanding of the IT environment.

Administrative Resources

When an organization begins its migration effort, it needs to be prepared to dedicate some of its key personnel for the project, even if using an outside company to perform the actual migration. Obviously, it is vital that the organization’s day-by-day tasks continue alongside the migration project, so pre-plan and coordinate staff’s schedules in advance.


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