FedEx is to close its data centers and retire all of its remaining mainframes within the next two years.
Has any company ever actually retired all of their mainframes?
I’ve worked for a company which spent millions to “retire” the mainframe in favor of a OneWorld ERP system, and, of course, we wound up with an ERP system designed by consultants, and, years later, still couldn’t get rid of the mainframe.
That company was “bought” by another company who was implementing Oracle financials to bypass their mainframe for one particular product line. I was the sysadmin for the $20M of Sun/EMC hardware that ran it. At last count, they had spent $110M in the effort, and then my company was raided and sold, and I lost track of what happened.
In my current place, we have numerous little groups all over the company because the mainframe 1) exists, and 2) is a mainframe. One group of people I work with have to spend hours working through mainframe screens to fill out a specifically-formatted Excel spreadsheet to send to another group to actually do the data entry into the mainframe. This type of “solution” to technical debt exists all over the company.
Our technical debt is such that for forty years, we still break our most-important internal software in 8 pieces BECAUSE THAT’S HOW MANY PIECES IT TOOK TO FIT IT ON FLOPPIES to send to the plants to upload it into the product’s computer. EVERY piece of software in the company has to deal with the fact that there are 8 individually-tracked, part-numbered sub-pieces, which are often shared between builds, in a feeble attempt to be slightly more efficient with 1.5 MB files. I worked with another group of people who spend literally DAYS on every release, going through a process of making sure all the pieces disassemble and reassemble correctly.
Does anyone in the world think that we could modernize our internal systems to stop doing this? Could anyone possibly imagine getting rid of the mainframe, which is the central source of authority of this complexity, and the single reason that things can never change? I hate it, but I don’t think there’s any way the company could muster the resources to change this… at least for EXISTING products…