ThyssenKrupp, the giant materials distribution company, operates from 80 locations around North America, but its computer operations are centered in one building. Those operations, of course, are vital to ThyssenKrupp complex warehousing, manufacturing, logistics and distribution functions. Imagine then, the trepidation with which ThyssenKrupp might approach migrating its computer applications to a new platform. What may have gone wrong, however, exists only in one’s imagination. In fact, ThyssenKrupp has migrated all those applications (CICS-363, Batch-551, MVS JCL-233, PROCS-29, SLI-70 and RPG-273) and data from an IBM mainframe to the iSeries without a single hitch. The savings that resulted have been impressive.
“Once we accepted the advantages and the necessity of the move, we never looked back,” says Andrew Hooper, ThyssenKrupp Director of IT operations. “The move for us was inevitable,” Hooper continues. We were not getting the assurances for support of the software for the mainframe that we needed in order to move forward. We knew that the iSeries was faster and more robust. We had good solid reasoning but things turned out even better than we expected.”
Hooper’s confidence in undertaking the big move was bolstered by his previous experience with a company that specializes in platform and application conversions, PIR Group of Chicago, Illinois. Hooper had a prior positive experience with PIR Group in converting their Wang legacy applications, which was no longer supported, over to the iSeries. “We had complete confidence in them,” says Hooper, “and it was turned out to be more than justified.”
PIR Group partner, Christian Schneider, says fears of mainframe to iSeries conversions rapidly dissipate when clients begin to perceive the advantages. Schneider adds “We have a client we converted from costs of $2 Million a year on the mainframe to $600,000 on the iSeries.” Schneider attributes the savings accrued from such migrations to a number of factors. Among those are:
Andrew Hooper says he was delighted that all of his far flung colleagues throughout the U S. experienced a seamless conversion. He adds: “The user community saw the same menus they saw before, the same transactions, the same functionality and the same background functions and features.” Hooper says the only difference was that the work became easier. He adds: “Many of our application issues were achieved with a faster turnaround. Once we got up to speed using the iSeries and its programming tools a lot of the things that we do turned out to be easier. The whole development lifecycle was deemed to be a lot faster. One of the new features in the application, for example, allows us to communicate with our inside sales system strictly using Java–previously we had to use a middleware product that basically was nothing but an upload/download from a PC to a client server application–it was very cumbersome and it was not in real time. Now when an order is entered on our inside sales system the salesperson sees the work order which is assigned by our iSeries machine. We are now we are running our data repositories on the DB2 relational database so there are a lot more ad hoc queries that can be put together. Those are just a few of the features that made the upgrade terrific over and above the savings factor which was, of course, critical to our decision.”
Hooper saves some of his greatest praise for the professionalism among the PIR Group staff. “The PIR Group,” he says, “are a great bunch. They hit all the milestones they promised. If you are going to perform a migration like this you definitely need to go out and get the top expertise. It would have taken us twice as long without PIR Group and, of course, with a greater risk of failure. Since the migration, three years ago, PIR Group always been there to answer questions for us without any fees involved. That’s why we say they are “without peer” in the conversion industry.”