Google Cloud announces Dual Run to ease mainframe migration to cloud

Believe it or not, there are still a fair number of large businesses that run on mainframe computers — yes, even in 2022. It may seem like a throwback from a time gone by, but it’s still a significant part of some enterprise computing stacks.

The question becomes, how can those companies move this data to the cloud without compromising essential business operations?

Google Cloud introduced a possible answer at Google Cloud Next today called Dual Run, a unique technology initially developed by Banco Santander, and later tuned by Google engineers in conjunction with the bank to optimize it for moving workloads to Google Cloud.

Sachin Gupta, VP and GM for infrastructure at Google, says that a decade ago, it was unimaginable for a company to run legacy mainframe workloads in the cloud, but he says the company made it a priority to remove roadblocks companies face trying to shift these workloads to the cloud.

“Dual Run enables parallel processing, which means customers can make a digital copy of their mainframe systems and run it simultaneously on Google Cloud without affecting their core business or negatively impacting the end user experience,” Gupta said at a Google Cloud Next press conference last week.

Why is this important? Well for starters, 44 of the top 50 banks and 23 of the top 25 largest U.S. retailers still use mainframes, according to Google. Before they can move any data to the cloud, they have to prove that it’s viable before shutting down the big iron. This is a high-stakes operation for these companies, so being able to run the two systems simultaneously until they figure out if everything is working is crucial for them to even consider moving to the cloud.

“Customers can test that [the cloud workload] is performing as expected, that the dependencies check out and that they can meet their compliance/auditor needs before transitioning completely to the cloud environment,” Gupta said at the press event.

He says that running both systems in parallel reduces overall risk for the customers as they move the workloads to the cloud. “And we help manage that parallel environment and that transition for customers using technology that we worked on with Santander,” he said.

It’s worth noting that for the time being, Google Dual Run is available in preview. The company didn’t indicate when it plans to make it generally available.