A&M System Shuts Down Mainframe with Financial System Modernization Project Completion

The Texas A&M University System News Release image header. Office of Marketing Communications. 979-458-6023

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System has, officially, retired its use of IBM mainframe technology.

The final shutdown and powering down of the mainframe took place on August 18, ending a long and productive mainframe computing era for the A&M System and its members.

“The financial systems of The Texas A&M University System are now run entirely on a modern technology stack,” said Deputy Chief Information Officer Mark Schulz, who led the in-house effort. “This truly marks the end of an era.”

Transitioning away from the IBM mainframe technology will save $1.5 million annually.

The transition brings to fruition recommendations from an IT assessment Chancellor John Sharp ordered shortly after his arrival in 2011. That assessment, completed by Deloitte, recommended the adoption of cloud technology for HR / Payroll and moving FAMIS to a new technology platform. In 2017, the A&M System went live with Workday, completing the first recommendation from that assessment.

Like its mainframe predecessor, the modernized platform for the financial software was created in-house. That means the A&M System will not pay subscription or licensing fees for the software. Hardware and software support costs are significantly less than with the mainframe platform. And technical support staff can now use modern tools and techniques to support and run the system.

From a user standpoint, the transition from the mainframe platform to the Microsoft platform was behind the scenes, avoiding extensive training and large-scale change so that business could continue without disruption.

Similar implementations of new financial software have cost from $80 million to $120 million or more. The A&M System’s FAMIS replatforming project cost about $22 million, inclusive of funds spent on internal staffing.

The journey from a mainframe system to new technology is not an easy one. Many Universities and companies across the country have started initiatives to retire their legacy software systems and move off of their mainframe. In 2014, the University of Texas aspired to move its administrative applications away from the mainframe, but to date has only been successful with transitioning HR and Payroll to Workday. Mo Burman, District Sales and General Manager with Sirius Computer Solutions, one of the project partners, said that such transitions are often unsuccessful and abandoned.

“The Texas A&M University System’s accomplishment in migrating their application workloads without issue in such a short timeframe and on budget is a testament to their team’s attention to detail, hard work, and perseverance.” Burman said.

The modernization project of the financial system was the result of nearly four years of discovery, research and collaboration with A&M System members and third-party software solutions experts. The A&M System thanks its technology partners in the journey: Astadia, Avanade, BMC Software, FreeIT Data Solutions, HelpSystems (now Fortra), Nutanix, and Sirius Computer Solutions (now CDW).

End of an Era

The A&M System went live with its financial system’s software, FAMIS, operating on Microsoft technology with modern hardware from Nutanix in November of 2022. With the implementation of FAMIS running on a modern technology platform, the A&M System and Texas A&M University ended their mainframe computing era. IBM mainframes had been part of the University and A&M System technology landscape since the late 1950s.

In the 1960s, mainframes on the flagship campus were used heavily for Fortran calculations and research. Statistical analysis done with the software from SAS was critical and heavily used over the next two to three decades. Student registration was done using mainframe technology on punch cards until the early 1980s. The 1970s saw the growing use of terminals and the use of mainframes for administrative business applications. Mainframe technology did adapt and modernize. In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, students will remember registering for classes using touch-tone telephones and later, early web-based systems.

In 2008, Texas A&M University transitioned to a new student system. The A&M System’s move to Workday and the replatformed financial system have completed the journey.

Looking forward

With the release of the replatformed financial system, the final phase of the modernization project has already begun. This phase will continue the modernization process with the discovery and implementation of a wide range of enhancements and improvements to business processes, reporting, analytics, and transparency.

About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $7.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 152,000 students and makes more than 24 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell

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