Published on in Financial ServicesDigital Transformation

For the last few decades, the mainframe has been critical to the financial services sector.

It still powers 92 of the world’s top 100 banks and 220 billion lines of mainframe application code are in use today, with 5 billion more are added every year.

Currently, 80% of enterprise data and 71% of all Fortune 500 companies’ core businesses reside on a mainframe.

And while the technology has served the industry well, it simply wasn’t geared for the increasingly data driven world we live in today.

Held back by legacy

The COVID-19 pandemic has put to rest any doubts around the necessity of digital transformation, as resilience and agility have shot to the top of most financial services organisation’s agendas.

At the heart of any move from the mainframe lies the ability to be truly data driven. And for established, traditional banks and insurers, that means the ability for their new data sat on new infrastructure or applications to be able to productively interact with all the old data sitting on their legacy mainframes.

The problem, however, is many mainframes and the languages the data they contain has been written in, simply wasn’t designed to enable these modern kinds of actions. For example, more than 220 million lines of COBOL code (a computer language) has been written since 1965, mostly for the FS industry. Yet, despite its prevalence, it’s quickly going extinct as it’s no longer being taught in schools or colleges.

Some have even gone as far to predict a future where there won’t be enough COBOL developers to manage all the code out there is just five years away.

At that point, if an organisation hasn’t worked to migrate their mainframe data to a more modern language, it will find itself in an incredibly tenuous position.

Many established FS organisations may not even realise they’re in this precarious position. And the ones that do may be too daunted by the scope of the task to act.

A post mainframe world

Migrating from legacy mainframes may not be the answer for every FS organisation – it comes down to risk. The reason mainframes have been at the heart of a lot of big businesses for more than 25 years is primarily because they’re efficient and reliable.

So, there are real risks with upending such a core piece of your business and it’s understandable why many don’t want to take that risk. But for many, until they make that leap, they won’t be able to truly digitally transform and offer the kinds of services newer ‘cloud native’ fintech organisations can – which may be just as harmful to their business in the long run.

Therefore, it’s imperative to work with a partner that understands these challenges so you’re not flying blind. Fujitsu has been helping customers make this jump in recent years as we have a long history in mainframes, having built, provided and maintained many over the years. It gives us the necessary insight to pull it off quickly, safely and cost-effectively.

But there’s a way to address the immediate risks, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and increase the ability to rapidly respond to changes in market conditions.

The suite of tools we use under the umbrella name, PROGRESSION, not only helps organisations migrate data from mainframes to the cloud, but can also convert the data’s language from soon defunct language such as COBOL to more modern ones like JAVA or C+, nipping all the effects of any future COBOL skills shortage in the bud.

So, not only will these organisations now be free of their limiting legacy hardware, it also means the throve of customer data these established FS organisations have can now be leveraged to create better services and more personalisation on a scale many challenger start-ups simply don’t have the history to be able to match.

But it goes further. By simplifying the infrastructure and applications so it’s easier and less costly to manage, not only do they make their businesses more agile, but also more competitive as they no longer have to contend with a lot of the costs and processes they once had to.

And these newly unshackled businesses now have more time, fewer costs, a wider talent pool, more data and the ability to better leverage emerging tech such as AI and automation – meaning there’s no limit to what they’ll be able to achieve.

Join Fujitsu for a hands-on Agile Banking or Insurance Future Workshop where you’ll learn more about Fujitsu’s migration technology, along with our methodology that includes uncovering existing mainframe workloads, assessing and prioritising those workloads, and then determining the best migration path to create the case for change, quickly, safely and cost effectively.

For more information about scheduling an Agile Banking / Insurance Future Workshop, please contact us via

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