Mainframe modernization startup CloudFrame Inc., today announced that it has raised a $7 million Series A funding round, bringing its total funding round to $8.5 million.
The New York-based company has developed technology that converts applications written in the COBOL programming language that was common in enterprise data processing until the mid-1980s into what it calls “native Java applications.” of the cloud”.
The potential market is vast. A recent study estimated that there are 800 billion lines of COBOL code still in use, about three times more than previously assumed. Additionally, COBOL applications are typically critical to large enterprise operations, making modernization a risky endeavor that many choose not to undertake.
In reality, many large companies aren’t looking to move mainframe applications to the cloud, but rather get them onto lower-cost platforms, chief executive Venkat Pillay said. CloudFrame’s Relocate and Renovate products allow customers to control the pace of their transformation and keep applications on-premises if they prefer.
Declining skill base
Pillay, who began his career as a mainframe programmer 30 years ago, said the current industry-wide skills crisis is nothing new for mainframe shops. “Fewer and fewer people know about Cobol and the assembler,” he said. “Organizations are thinking ahead about how they can migrate to the cloud.”
CloudFrame’s toolset follows 12-factor cloud application development principles and removes hard-coded dependencies from legacy applications, Pillay said. Dependencies can include reliance on proprietary storage technologies such as VSAM, middleware such as CICS, and databases such as Db2.
The company also allows selective modification of dependencies. “You can start with logic and change your data or not,” he said. “The Spring framework allows you to move your logic but your dependencies are injected from the outside so you can move incrementally.” Spring is an application development framework specifically for Java.
Pillay said CloudFrame does not require source code access for conversion. “If you don’t have source code, we can disassemble your object code and figure out how it was compiled,” he said. It also accommodates some of the unique ways COBOL calculates fractions and floating-point decimals, a variation that means “90% of your calculations won’t match if recompiled into another language. We can preserve the how the calculations are done,” he said.
IBM Corp., which manufactured the vast majority of mainframes in use, gifted its mainframe customers some 15 years ago with z Systems Integrated Information Processor, a specialized processor that works asynchronously with the general processors of a mainframe to handle new workloads and enable workload modernization. The zIIP processor is considerably less expensive than a mainframe and can run converted applications at almost no cost.
“We believe in incremental modernization,” Pillay said. “The customer may not be ready to move to the cloud. So when we convert the code, they can run it anywhere Java can run, including on the mainframe itself.”
The funding was led by Eldridge Industries LLC, with additional investments from KKR & Co. LP founder Henry Kravis and members of the New York Angels.