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Yes! You can access your mainframe from the cloud

by   in Application Modernization

The Mainframe Continues to Be Important

A recent Osterman Research paper showed that “68% of respondents indicated that “worldwide spending on mainframes will increase from $2.09 billion in 2017 to $2.91 billion by 2025” and that “that 70 percent of organizations that operate mainframes intend to keep them.” It also found that “mainframes process 90 percent of credit card transactions, they handle 68 percent of production IT workloads, and they process 30 billion financial transactions daily”. Indeed, the mainframe is essential to our world!

With the mainframe being so critical to so many organizations, it is important to bring the mainframe into the modern world! And that includes the cloud. As shown by Gartner, the cloud continues to grow, with cloud spending expected to grow from 1.3 trillion in 2022 to 1.8 trillion in 2025. It is inevitable that the mainframe and the cloud will intersect in your organization —if they haven’t already.

Your Journey to the Cloud

Wherever you are in your journey to the cloud, you need to continually evaluate what is right for you. There will be applications that should go to the cloud and there will be applications that should stay off cloud (on premises). Many organizations find that the best approach is hybrid—a mix of cloud and off-cloud approaches. When the cloud journey is for a mainframe organization, the terminal emulator is an obvious choice for evaluation. This is a business-critical application that needs modernization. Moving it to the cloud has great upside. What are some of the things you may experience when you move terminal emulation to the cloud? You can:

  • Reduce total cost of ownership (TCO): Deploying a zero-footprint terminal emulator from the cloud lowers TCO by allowing a central point of administration and deployment, reducing management at the desktop.
  • Increase flexibility: Terminal emulation from the cloud allows users to access the host anytime and anywhere.
  • Increase scalability: Using containers and orchestration you can easily scale terminal emulation, allowing you to deploy it to hundreds, thousands, or even more users.
  • Meet regulatory compliance, reduce risk, and increase security: Ensure that your choice of terminal emulation solution features Identity and Access Management (IAM) integration, so that only users that you have authorized can connect to the mainframe and everyone else is denied access.
  • Centralize control and management: Quickly deploy secure, browser-based sessions with supporting keyboards, quick keys, and macros.
  • Eliminate workstation dependencies: When moving terminal emulation to the cloud, you should consider a terminal emulator with a web interface and remove the need to manage desktop clients at each workstation.
  • Modernize the user interface: Provide your users with host access via a modern browser experience, and even transition from a terminal green screen to a modern application interface.

You can have the mainframe on premises while accessing it from the cloud. For example, a global financial organization was able to deploy Host Access for the Cloud, a web-based, secure, zero-footprint terminal emulator, allowing users secure access to their on premises mainframe applications. By having terminal emulation in the cloud, productivity has increased, security has improved, and centralized management has lowered its TCO. It’s a real-world example of the benefits of moving terminal emulation to the cloud.

Think of Mainframe Access like Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is the popular business email and application platform in use today. This solution has gone from a primarily on-premises program to a cloud model. Users can employ the “light”, cloud-based version of Microsoft 365, or they can use traditional, desktop clients. They can access Microsoft 365 resources from anywhere and on a variety of platforms (think of mobile devices or web browsers), or from their desktop. In short, moving users to the cloud enables users to do whatever they were doing before, but with more resilience and with a new and growing set of capabilities.

In a similar way, employees can access the mainframe using terminal emulation (or, host access) from the cloud. Host access from the cloud provides enormous economies of scale in the same way that it does for Microsoft 365. Users can access the mainframe from any web-enabled device—anytime, anywhere. Costs go down and life gets much easier for IT departments charged with enabling access to the mainframe. As an added benefit, the interface for users is easier to navigate and consistent with the interfaces they employ for other applications.

This is the intersection of the mainframe and the cloud. Keep your mainframe where it is, but bring it into the modern world. Provide modern access to the mainframe—from the cloud—in a secure, centrally managed way, with the benefits of the cloud. And keep all of the advantages of the mainframe.

Become More Agile

We learned a lot over the past few years—and one of the biggest lessons is that critical applications must be accessible anytime, from anywhere, with secure access to stay agile. Many organizations were caught flat-footed when the global pandemic lockdowns started, and they had to scramble to enable employees to remotely access their critical applications to keep the business operating as close to normally as possible. Compounding the problem of simply providing access was doing so securely, particularly for users who were now working from home. We need to be prepared for whatever may happen next--be whether it’s another worldwide event, a localized event, or even changing working conditions. Organizations need to be agile.

Benefits that apply to any cloud-accessible application can also apply to host access from the cloud. Allowing access to mainframes via the cloud means that employees can work anytime from anywhere, ensuring that businesses can better weather the next pandemic, natural disaster, or other business disruptor with a minimum of interruption to normal business operations. Plus, it allows employees flexibility and increased productivity as they have secure, anytime, anywhere access to the mainframe. This is particularly important given that mainframes handle large volumes of real-time transactions, such as credit card processing. Even minor hiccups in accessing mainframes can have enormous consequences for a business that relies on them.

What now?

The mainframe and the cloud can co-exist. In fact, having both can make your organization better! You can keep the mainframe and have secure, cloud host access. Learn more about how you can access the mainframe from the cloud:



  • Accessing a mainframe from the cloud can be a useful strategy for modernizing legacy systems while still leveraging the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability, flexibility, and reduced costs. Overall, accessing a mainframe from the cloud requires careful planning, execution, and ongoing maintenance. But with the right approach and tools, it can be a highly effective way to modernize legacy systems and take advantage of cloud computing benefits.