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LzLabs CEO promises to end mainframe migration woes with ‘software defined’ approach

Matthew Finnegan | Sept. 1, 2016
The 'software defined mainframe' allows mainframes applications to run on x86-based Linux servers.

Consider the financial services sector for example. Most of the major UK banks have struggled with untangling a web of complex systems. At the same time digital-only lenders are able to build from the ground up using containers and microservices that allow them to be much more nimble.

Cresswell says that this is a situation faced across a range of sectors. "There are a lot of companies out there that don't have any legacy baggage and are much more agile, so can respond to changing market dynamics very quickly," he says. "They are able to do that because they are based on entirely modern technology."

Software eats the mainframe

LzLabs' product is described as a managed software container that enables applications to be migrated onto Linux computers or private, public and hybrid cloud environments. For example, LzLabs announced a deal with Microsoft Azure to host its services on the Azure Public cloud, alongside a partnership with Red Hat.

The LzLabs software enables an executable form of legacy mainframe software and subsystems to operate without changes to the code. However a partnership with service provider COBOL-IT is aimed at supporting those that want to adapt legacy code.

Cresswell described the migration process: "When an application is moved from the mainframe into our environment we don't recompile it or anything like that. We literally take the binary code that comes off the mainframe environment," Cresswell explained.

"At the time we put it into the container we replace all the APIs with contemporary ones that reference our software defined mainframe container."

LzLabs - future plans

LzLabs' proposition is intriguing, and the startup could have a very interesting future if it can achieve its aims.

Its CEO says the company is open to further funding as it attempts to grow and expand the business. There are currently "half a dozen" customers trialling LzLabs products, including those in the financial and telecommunications sectors.

One major challenge will be going up against IBM, for which mainframes continue to be a significant source of revenue.

As a recent 451 Research report points out, there have been a number of attempts to help IBM customers move off mainframes, most of which struggled in the face of opposition from the larger vendor, or ended up being acquired, such as Transitive and Platform Solutions.

In the short term the goal will be to prove that it can deliver on its claims in trials with customers. This will be vital to persuading more large firms to take the plunge and move off their mainframes. There will certainly be no shortage of mainframe-owning businesses keen to see the results.


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