Elektroskandia migrates to reduce operational costs and improve operating environment
"The migration of Elektroskandia's Central Warehouse Management System in its Sweden Office was necessitated by the need to move off the outdated VM mainframe environment. The migration to a Windows Server environment not only allowed us to retain the application, but reduce annual operating costs by 65 percent." (Karen Kruger, IT director, Elektroskandia)
Elektroskandia is a large retailer of electronic goods within Scandinavian countries. In addition, the company is an electronic parts distributor. The migration of the Central Warehouse Management System, which manages all the stock in their centralised warehouse facility, was performed in Elektroskandia's Swedish operation.
Elektroskandia realised the need to find a solution to the difficulties it faced around their VM mainframe. The company has a Central Warehouse Management System which operated on the VM mainframe. The difficulties included rising support costs as a result of IBM's discontinuation of the VM line in the late 1990s, and finding developers with VM skills as the pool of developers was on a continual decline.
While the Central Management System was of fundamental importance to Elektroskandia's business, managing 36 000 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units), 19 000 order lines daily, as well as being totally integrated with Elektroskandia's ERP system, the time had come to look at alternatives.
The first option was to completely re-write the management system for a new programming and operating environment with C# and Windows Server. However, recreating such a complex system which handles so many order lines, and ensuring it integrated into Elektroskandia's ERP system before going live, would have been a mammoth task.
The alternative option was to migrate the management system to an alternative platform using software designed to emulate the necessary aspects of the VM mainframe environment. Given the obvious cost saving of this option, Elektroskandia began exploring this approach and Micro Focus was tasked with implementing a 'lift and shift' approach – migrating the Central Warehouse Management System off the VM mainframe onto a Microsoft Windows server using Micro Focus Next Express.
"MigrationWare provided an emulation solution of the ISPF online environment for Elektroskandia. The migration enabled Elektroskandia to continue to use the Central Warehouse Management System with no perceptible change to the users of the application." [Mark Cooper, MD, MigrationWare]
MigrationWare, a strategic Micro Focus partner, was brought in by Micro Focus to assist with the migration and create emulation software to enable the Central Warehouse Management System to function in the new environment.
The solution involved migrating the Central Warehouse Management System and a DB2 database to a Windows Server environment with SQL Server. Micro Focus NetExpress was used for the programming in the Windows Server environment and Micro Focus Enterprise Server for the runtime environment. A tool was also developed to convert the dashboards from the management system for viewing in the new environment.
The most important benefit of the migration of the management system was the decommissioning of the VM mainframe. This resulted in a 65 percent reduction in the cost of the solution. Running the Central Warehouse Management System in Windows meant future mainframe upgrades were prevented, high maintenance costs were no longer an issue, and skills were much more accessible in the Windows Server environment.
The Central Warehouse Management System continues to operate as it did previously without Elektroskandia having to create or purchase new software.
The Windows Environment with Micro Focus NetExpress made development on the management solution much faster and provided increased functionality. Compiling is now quicker and the testing tools are also more effective in the new environment. This means that changes can be made quickly to the software, testing can be completed and the changes to the software can ultimately be implemented in a far shorter space of time.
The Windows Server environment also provides some operational benefits. The SQL server provides faster database access than the DB2 database. Practical tasks like the printing of labels and documentation for items in the warehouse are also easier in a Windows environment.