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Mitigate mainframe migration risks with Dual Run

CIOs are again evaluating their mainframe investments, balancing rising operational costs and difficulty finding talent with the perceived costs and risks of moving critical applications to the cloud. Increased business agility, technical innovation, computing elasticity, customer insights, and a growing talent pool all encourage CIOs to migrate and modernize from “Big Iron” onto public cloud platforms. 

Google Cloud recently announced Dual Run, a new mainframe modernization solution, to help customers mitigate the risk involved in mainframe migrations and accelerate their migration to the cloud. Leaders can leverage Dual Run in their quest to ensure their mainframe modernization projects will succeed and pay off so let’s dive a little deeper into what Dual Run is, how it works, and how it can help you. 

Mainframe modernization with a proven technology

Since so many businesses still run mainframes, we decided to partner with Banco Santander—one of the largest banks in the world—to bring Dual Run to our enterprise customers, since they had already built a solution. In fact, Dual Run was built on top of Banco Santander’s unique technology which has already demonstrated proven results in the regulated financial services industry. Now that Dual Run is available, Banco Santander has been using it to bring their data and workloads onto Google Cloud’s trusted infrastructure.

The concept is not new, but the solution is unique

Dual Run enables you to run a parallel production system, allowing you to simultaneously run workloads on your mainframes and on Google Cloud. While many enterprises running mainframes have thought about parallel production concept and a few even tried before, Google Cloud is unique among the hyperscalers to provide such a solution as an offering to its customers. 

With a parallel production run, you can perform real-time testing of your applications on Google Cloud and quickly gather data on performance and stability with no disruption to your business. Once you’re satisfied with the functional and performance equivalence of the two systems, you can make the new Google Cloud environment your system of record, while existing mainframe systems can be used as a backup or decommissioned. 

In addition to the transformative benefits you get from moving to Google Cloud–such as AI-based scalability, speed, and security–migrating mainframes with Dual Run offers you even more benefits:

Mitigate migration risk: Dual Run reduces risk during the migration by running your business critical systems in parallel with powerful reporting to track the difference between your current and target systems. This ensures there is no impact or risk to your existing mainframes while migrating to Google Cloud. 

Secure migration investments: Avoid costly migration mistakes by basing your decisions and actions on empirical data acquired from your production system.

Reduce business testing effort: Compare the functional equivalence of outcomes in the current and target system with production data and drastically reduce the testing cycles of your migrated workload. 

Accelerate migration: Speed up the entire mainframe migration process with a well-defined framework, automation components, predefined dashboards, and a tested approach.  Empirical reporting available in Dual Run also enables customers in regulated industries to more readily respond to regulator reviews and requests for information.

Your migration journey with Dual Run

Dual Run is packaged with several automation components to aid your migration journey, from assessment all the way through to production. 

This chart shows how Dual Run plays a key role throughout your mainframe modernization journey:

Let’s explore this illustration in a bit more detail, phase by phase: 

Current state: This is your starting point, when your production workloads are still running in your mainframe. Dual Run helps you assess your mainframe workload for compatibility on Google Cloud. 

After this assessment, Dual Run’s conversion engine helps address the incompatibilities in your current application and then migrates the application and data to Google Cloud. At this stage, you have your current application executing on the mainframe and your migrated application is ready to be executed or tested on Google Cloud.

Dual Run state: In this state, the migrated workload will be executed in two stages.

Dual Run stage 1:

In the first stage of Dual Run, your mainframe will remain as the “primary” system — meaning the response and outputs to other systems are sent from your mainframe — while the migrated workload will be executed in parallel in Google Cloud as “secondary.”

Dual Run performs the following actions as a cyclical process, repeated until you reach your desired migrated application quality is achieved:

All workloads — batch & transactions — executed in the mainframe are replicated in Google Cloud 

The outcomes from both systems are validated to report any differences, enabling you to take corrective actions in migrated applications

The functional and performance differences between the two systems will be observed, and the mainframe and Google Cloud data are periodically synchronized to bring both the systems in sync 

Typically, most of your migration time will be spent in the first stage of Dual Run until you are satisfied with the results. The key goal for this stage is that your primary, business-critical mainframe workload is not disturbed while your migrated application is tuned to provide the exact same results as your current application.

Dual Run stage 2:

When the Dual Run reporting and results confirm that the migrated application matches your mainframe system, Google Cloud then becomes the “primary” system, while your mainframe will still be executed in parallel as “secondary.” Dual Run will enable you to do a smooth switch between primary and secondary systems through a configuration management system.

Target state: In this final state, the mainframe can be decommissioned while the Dual Run components are removed, enabling an optimal and efficient business execution with Google Cloud.


For any business or organization that has to migrate or modernize their mainframes, Dual Run offers a unique solution to achieve this with reduced risk and time. In fact, what we’re seeing from our customers is that Dual Run offers the right combination of proven experience, engineering, and strategic partnership that is essential for mainframe migration success. If you would like to learn more, check out our mainframe modernization website.

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