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Google wants to copy-paste your mainframe applications into its cloud

Preview service claims to eliminate risks of migrating mission-critical workloads

GCN Google is preparing a mainframe modernization service that intends to simplify and lessen the risk of migrating mainframe workloads to the cloud - a complex process that can be frought with pitfalls.

Called Dual Run for Google Cloud, the preview service was unveiled at the company's Google Cloud Next event and is claimed to eliminate the most common risks and concerns associated with mainframe projects.

Details on how exactly this will work were scant at this stage but the basic premise of Dual Run seems to be the following, from what we can tell from Google.

Mainframe applications tend to be the most mission-critical within any enterprise that uses them, and any disruption caused by downtime could be a commercial disaster – just ask British bank TSB.

Dual Run enables such workloads to run simultaneously on the existing mainframe and on Google Cloud, allowing an organization to perform testing and gather data on performance and stability, with no disruption to their operations – at least according to Google.

Once customers are satisfied with the functional equivalence of the two systems, the applications running in the Google Cloud environment can then be made the organization's system-of-record, while the existing mainframe systems can operate as a backup, Google claims.

While Google is not a name you might associate with mainframe expertise, potential customers may be reassured by the fact that the underlying technology of Dual Run was developed by a bank, Santander, to facilitate its own transition of its core banking services to the cloud.

Santander said the software, which it calls Gravity, has allowed it to bring data and workloads onto Google Cloud, and it has already migrated 80 percent of its IT infrastructure, including a core banking platform where financial transactions such as money transfers, deposits or loans are processed.

"Dual Run for Google Cloud, which leverages the innovation we've developed in-house at Santander, will be critical for the digital transformation of many companies and is a testament to the outstanding technology built by our teams," said Banco Santander group chief operating and technology officer Dirk Marzluf.

But Dual Run is only one part of Google's Mainframe Modernization Solution (MMS), which the company said includes tried-and-tested processes and tools for a risk-mitigated migration to Google Cloud.

Google said that its cloud consultants and external advisors will advise on and help design the customer's cloud architecture, dependencies, and the steps for mainframe migration and modernization.

These external advisors include Atos, Capgemini, Infosys, and Kyndryl, the former IT infrastructure services division of IBM which recently unveiled a separate agreement with Microsoft to build data pipelines between mainframe systems and the Azure cloud.

The tools that Google has alongside Dual Run include G4 for application discovery and code refactoring to migrate Cobol, PL/1, or Assembler programs into cloud-native services. This is based on tech Google gained when it acquired Cornerstone Technology in 2020.

It also has a Mainframe Connector that enables data to be moved between the mainframe, Google Cloud Storage, and BigQuery, Google's data warehouse service.

The giveaway that this isn't just another on-demand cloud service is that interested parties need to get in touch with a Google Cloud account representative in order to access Dual Run and the company's other mainframe migration tools.

However, modernizing IT infrastructure can be a significant stepping stone into the cloud era for enterprises, according to Google Cloud VP and GM Sachin Gupta.

"By moving mainframe systems to the cloud, organizations have an opportunity to better utilize their data, implement stronger cybersecurity protections, and build a foundation for their digital transformations that will drive their future growth," Gupta said. ®

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