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Australia’s Kmart gears up for mainframe migration

Retailer is lifting and shifting some old Cobol code to AWS while rebuilding others into microservices in its mainframe migration move

Australia’s homegrown retailer Kmart is on the cusp of migrating its mainframe applications to Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of its technology modernisation plan.

Speaking at a virtual media briefing today, Kmart’s chief technology officer, Michael Fagan, said the work will involve mainframe applications that power some back-end processes, including supply chain, merchandising and inventory management.

Fagan said that while some of the company’s applications, such as HR and finance, are already running on the cloud, moving mainframe applications to the cloud is notoriously hard to do.

“It’s a pretty significant effort and one that a lot of companies aren’t able to achieve without the help of the AWS team and some really smart people at Kmart,” he said.

Fagan told Computer Weekly that the migration plan involves lifting and shifting some Cobol code to the cloud, as well as rebuilding some code into microservices.

“Lift-and-shift on its own is not going to be particularly useful for we’re trying to do,” he said. “There’ll be some clean-up of old code, and some of that will run in the cloud on a mainframe emulator.

“But, at the same time, we’re taking slices off the mainframe and rebuilding them as a set of capabilities around microservices, which can interact with other applications.”

Kmart has centred its public cloud strategy around AWS, for which it has developed capabilities through a training programme called Spark. The programme has already trained and certified everyone in Kmart’s IT team on AWS, said Fagan.

Besides the IT team, other employees in the company, including helpdesk staff and even the group managing director, are also certified on AWS to varying levels, he added.

“For us to remain at the forefront of technology innovation in retail, it’s important that we provide our employees with the skills to innovate in cloud and machine learning,” said Fagan.

“For example, by leveraging our cloud skills, we’ve been able to help improve the management of stuff online and in store in a particularly challenging environment over the last eight or nine weeks.”

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Today is MAy 20th, 2020. Any updates as to how did this migration go?
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