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See real-world examples of how we’ve helped companies like yours modernize their legacy systems. We’ll help you preserve your investment in existing systems while improving performance, scalability, and security.

Will County


Faced with an end of life computing platform Will County needed to make some tough decisions. They looked at replacement packages but neither municipality systems were as robust as the one they had developed and customized for their county’s needs. The solution was obvious, migrate their current county system. Servers were too risky for failure the platform solution was the stable Power i system from IBM.


PIR Group Makes Mainframe to i Series Migration “a Great Experience” for CHS

When CHS Inc., a leading Fortune 200 energy and grain-based foods company, was faced with the challenge of upgrading their mainframe system – project lead Andre Dube had much to consider.

Dube’s primary consideration was reducing operating costs. The company’s mainframe system included database support for contract management, shipment logistics, freight payables, inventory management, and transaction archives. The application inventory totaled over 400 IDMS/DC online programs, 450 IDMS/DC batch programs, and 350 JCL programs. At a monthly operating cost of over one million dollars for maintenance and upkeep, moving into a supported database environment seemed the make sense.

An investment in the right hardware was the Dube’s first order of business – he ultimately decided on the IBM i Series, a system that CHS had experience with in other departments. With the actual migration from mainframe to the i Series the next phase of the project, CHS sought to find the right partner. “PIR Group was referred to us by IBM,” said Dube, and after just one meeting the decision to go with them was made.

The CHS migration project had its own set of unique criteria:

Detailed display screens needed to remain the same
International systems required multilingual GUIs.
Large number of programs had to be converted and tested.
Disaster recovery model needed to mimic their production environment.
The project also had its share of challenges. Not long after the conversion project began, Dube lost two key programmers. He suddenly found himself with no one on his team to manage the conversion. “PIR Group jumped in and assisted us in acquiring the necessary local personnel to staff our project team,”Dube indicated. “Losing two key people slowed us down and delayed the project a little bit, but with PIR helping us through the transition it turned out not to be significant in the long run.”

“It was a great experience,” says Dube. “We stumbled over a few database challenges, which they (PIR Group) resolved for us. Testing was critical to make sure everything fell into place, our business analysts worked closely with PIR’s team to learn to PIR Group on a regular basis to work closely with their staff. PIR did whatever it took to keep the project going forward, working through all the bugs. After we went live, they stayed with us for the next two weeks to insure we didn’t have any hitches. As a result they kept us from experiencing any significant downtime, and the system has been working smoothly for us ever since.”

Most importantly, the upgrade significantly reduced operating costs. Dube says, “With hardware and personnel savings on the i Series, we no longer needed database analysis, or the large support staff, so it all added up. Management was very pleased with the results.”

Case Study Thyssenkrupp1

When it Comes to Migration ThyssenKrupp Rates PIR Group “without peer” in leading a Successful Conversion to the iSeries Platform.

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:

You may be using only a small amount of the capacity of your mainframe but paying for total usage.
Automated utilities keep the cost of migration down.
iSeries is an equivalent and equally scalable computer platform with fewer software and maintenance costs.
The cost of iSeries has been driven down by competition which didn’t exist in the early days of the mainframe.
The programming tools for the iSeries are easy to use and eliminate expensive licensing fees.
You are able to maintain your inventory of programs and move those to another platform without having to buy packages, rewrite or re-engineer to continue running your business.
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.”

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Whether you’re looking for a conversion service for legacy applications or skilled support with specialized software management and maintenance needs, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn more about how you can upgrade your company’s technological landscape for the better.

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