After an enthusiastic start, with in-depth coverage by analysts during the “peak of inflated expectations” phase, the mainframe migration and re-hosting market has been moving along on a slow speed for a long time. 2016 seems to have been the year when the market started to pass the “trough of disillusionment” in Gartner speak though since in 2017 and early 2018 significant trends started to emerge in the market!

2017 was characterized by two phenomena.

Firstly, a clear compelling event emerged: a whole generation is retiring. There are many stories about companies starting to “panic” because the people that know and maintain their core business applications are about to retire.
Paradoxical as it may be, at the same time the people that believe that only the mainframe can deliver the processing power needed to process the workloads of these core business applications are retiring also.
This has led to yet unseen dynamics in the market.

Secondly, for the first time in history, people – faced with these projects anyway – decide more and more to change the programming language while they are at it anyway. While in the past, people often decided to stick to COBOL on open systems eventually when migrating and re-hosting, and the ones moving to an OO language were rather brave exceptions, 2017 can be marked as the year when many customers took the opportunity to finally move out of COBOL also, and convert to Java or C#!

In 2018, an additional trend is emerging: customers are starting the process to migrate and re-host supersized mainframes. Cases with 100+ M lines of code, or with 100+ K MIPS, or with 1000+ developers are emerging. Not surprisingly maybe – given the impact and the amount of potential change management - these supersized migrations and re-hosting projects for the time being still keep their COBOL on the new platform.

All in all, it looks like the market is finally reaching its “slope of enlightment”!