To meet a legal obligation to reduce administrative costs by 10%, Deutsche Rentenversicherung (DRV) required its Baden-Würrtemberg IT team to make considerable cost savings. The team worked with colleagues from DRV Knappschaft-Bahn-See, and the two computer centres migrated their legacy z/OS systems to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z. By consolidating standalone servers onto the mainframe platform, cost-efficiency was increased, and the DRV teams are on target to achieve their goals.
About Deutsche Rentenversicherung
DRV Baden-Württemberg is one of 18 regional and specialist social security agencies that are responsible for Germany’s statutory pension funds. The organisation employs 3,600 people, and provides social security for Baden-Württemberg’s entire working population—more than 3.3 million people.
To meet legislative targets, DRV needed to achieve a 10% reduction in its administrative costs. The organisation’s core processes were already highly efficient, so it began to identify other possible cost savings.
“We quickly realised that our IT infrastructure would be the place to start,” said Falk-Oliver Bischoff, Head of IT at DRV Baden-Württemberg. “We were running CICS-COBOL applications on IBM z/OS, and the cost of licensing and maintenance was high.”
The business was also running applications under SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on standalone Intel servers.
“The need to maintain numerous servers led to wasted space and power in our data centres,” said Hartmut Hackert, Head of IT at DRV Knappschaft-Bahn-See. “The heterogeneous landscape also meant that we needed different development platforms, which was inefficient.”
DRV realised that by leveraging the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) within its existing IBM System z mainframe, it could run Linux environments at a much lower cost than the existing z/OS environments. The IT team also anticipated that consolidating standalone Linux servers onto the mainframe would further reduce costs.
“We have been using SUSE Linux offerings for several years, so it was a simple decision to use SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z in this project too,” said Bischoff. “We see SUSE as a visionary company, developing new products that help us run our IT landscape efficiently.”
Because of the size and complexity of its applications, DRV initiated a two-year proof-of-concept to evaluate the benefits of migrating to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z.
“We investigated how easily we could port our applications from z/OS to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z, and ran performance tests,” said Bischoff. “This demonstrated significant improvements in price-performance, so we decided to proceed with the migration.”
Development teams from DRV agencies in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Saarland, and DRV Knappschaft-Bahn-See in Bochum worked with consultants from IBM to analyse 3.5 million lines of COBOL code in 2,500 applications, and port them to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z.
“IBM Global Business Services worked on the first steps for the migration of the applications to Linux,” said Olaf Senger, Project Manager, IBM Global Business Services. “IBM also developed tools for the Linux environment and trained customer employees, drawing on the Linux expertise of the IBM lab in Böblingen.”
DRV now runs the legacy applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z at locations in Würzburg and Bochum.
“Running our legacy applications on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z gives us an adequate platform for consolidating additional servers—mainly for our standalone Linux servers, but also, if possible, for suitable applications from our client-server environment. We not only save space, air-conditioning and power consumption, but also simplify the administration of these system environments within a single machine.”
“The migration of applications from z/OS to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z delivers cost savings and opens up new possibilities,” said Bischoff. “Most important of all, it enables us to do this without sacrificing quality or performance.”
The cost savings are achieved through the lower licensing and support costs of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z, and the ability to leverage cost-effective System z IFL processors. As a result, the IT organisation expects to contribute significantly to DRV’s target of 10% cost savings.
“We are currently integrating Linux services into the system environment of our network,” said Bischoff. “And we also benefit from tools like the company-wide metadirectory, which is based on eDirectory™, and the centralised patch management feature.”
“We also aim to achieve a stronger focus on open source,” said Hackert. “We can use this platform both for the replacement of existing client/server applications and the introduction of new ones.”
The flexibility and openness of Linux are also important factors for DRV. “Young people coming from the universities feel much more at home in Linux than they would in a z/OS environment,” said Bischoff. “Now we have combined the classical world of mainframe systems with a more modern client-server architecture.”
As a result, DRV now feels that it is in a stronger position to meet future IT requirements.
“SUSE is able to provide continuity and interoperability for legacy systems, current standards and future technology,” said Hackert. “This means that we can integrate legacy systems with minimal risk, and can achieve notable cost savings.”