Goodbye mainframe, hello data

On Monday, November 2, King County IT shut down and turned off the aging King County mainframe (think extra-large refrigerator-sized, pre-PC computer), an important step in Executive Constantine’s goal of making King County a best-run government.

This was truly a historic occasion, and marked the final ‘go-live’ stage of a multi-year Mainframe Rehosting Project.

To give some context, a mainframe is not a machine built for everyday workload; it is designed to run big, complex jobs. King County’s mainframe was being used for large-volume critical business applications such as property tax payments and DAJD booking and referral transactions, yet it was running on 1970’s technology.


So what was accomplished? The project team moved 25+ million mainframe records to a modern platform and re-wrote the programs in a language that integrates with other system. They tested and retested to ensure that no data was lost, and rehosted it in the county’s virtual environment.

Now that the mainframe is off, KCIT has significantly reduced the risk of downtime and increased the ability to support new business requirements like data analytics. Better information means more options and transparency in decision-making.

While other areas of the County have been looking to leverage IT to help accelerate analytical, mobile, social, big data, and cloud initiatives, this important transactional data was locked away in old technology and obscured by programming languages that are just as old as the mainframe.

And as with most technology this old, the mainframe was at risk of continued failure, not to mention the high costs of maintaining old code and a legacy system.

This success of this project is a huge step forward towards King County’s future of modernization and increased value in the services KCIT provides to enhance the way we do business. Many thanks to the KCIT team who worked 24/7 and spent nights and weekends during this last push to go-live.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye mainframe, hello data

  1. Hello – we have many online interactive ways to get data related to properties in King County. Check out this page and let me know if it has what you’re looking for.
    If not, let me know and we’ll help you find what you need. The Mainframe Migration project modernized our infrastructure and is actually giving us more ability to see and use the data that used to be sitting in the old Mainframe.

  2. I used to be able to find public info and download (say property sales) and then analyze myself. Today the “best/most” I can find is some pdf output, which is NOT helpful. the mainframe extracts were vital…where’d they go

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