Seven severs 20-year mainframe hookup

After 20 years of big iron computing, the Seven Network has switched off its last mainframe used to control its network television system in favour of Solaris with reduced TCO and increased flexibility being the main drivers for the migration.

Seven's project manager for the migration David Checkley, said the telecaster had been a mainframe user for more than 20 years, having had an in-house mainframe until the start of an outsourcing agreement with IBM seven years ago.

"We had the use of 70 MIPS on an LPAR on one of the IBM mainframes," Checkley said.

The transition of the mainframe batch environment to a Unix environment was one of the main challenges, he said. "In that, we were assisted by Software AG which had previous experience in migrating mainframe batch JCL to a Unix scripting solution."

Seven's network television system - based on Software AG's Adabas Natural application platform - controls the Channel Seven Network's sales, program, presentation and promotion scheduling, in addition to accounts invoicing and television ratings functions.

The migration project began in October, 2003 and the new Sun system went live on the May 31 this year.

Checkley, a long-time mainframe professional, said that, in some ways Seven is losing a piece of history, but he wasn't overly tied to the platform.

"Since migrating, our application performance is greater, while our costs have reduced 30 percent," he said. "We have also benefited by having better access to the operating system on the Unix platform, enabling new functionality to be easily built into the Adabas Natural application."

The Seven Network has had Sun servers for "many years", including servers used for hosting previous payroll and finance systems.

"At the time of the migration from the mainframe, Seven used Sun servers for hosting SMS processing applications," Checkley said.

Solaris was chosen over Linux for the network system's application; however, Checkley said Seven is also licensed to use Software AG products on Linux servers.

"Although there are no current plans to host the system on a Linux platform, it may be an option in the future, depending on development requirements that may arise," he said.

As a result of bringing the network television system back in-house, Seven has also hired nine new staff and believes the project bodes well with the company's vision of aligning digital infrastructure with digital content.

Michael Hawkins, Software AG's Asia Pacific professional services general manager, said many organizations are looking to increase efficiency and reduce IT costs by migrating mainframe-based applications to open systems.

"Like the Seven Network, customers are discovering that migrating reliable, mission-critical Adabas Natural applications to Unix, rather than migrating off Adabas Natural entirely, is far less risky and costly," Hawkins said.

This migration is one of seven Sun Microsystems has performed in Australia in the past two years, according the company's national product manager for enterprise servers Robert Becker.

"We typically notice 30 to 50 percent cost savings for a mainframe to Sun migration," Becker said. "Customers experience significant performance gains and the flexibility to run other applications."

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