NASA CIO, Linda Cureton, blogs that the Marshall Space Flight Center powered down NASA’s last mainframe stating that it “marks the end of an era.” But I’m wondering if it’s just the beginning of an era where NASA’s applications are running on a distributed network of scalable, elastic, physical and virtual servers in the cloud. An era that would need NASA to continue the Application Transformation journey while ensuring that the right applications run in the right environment based on the Cloud Transformation Bill of Rights.

My best guess is that NASA is very likely to give strong consideration to re-hosting select applications to cloud computing. Here is why:

Think about NASA’s various space shuttle launches that entail sending astronauts into space — relocating them to a lighter, lean and automated environment. The space shuttle team continues to deliver on their professional expertise (functionality) regardless of their professions (multiple business domains).

NASA has engaged in the re-hosting of such human functionality to modernized space shuttles for several years now. Could these launches have permeated the mind-set of the IT strategists at NASA?

Both journeys – the one that migrates to Outer Space, as well as the one that migrates to cloud computing, involve 3 key phases outlined below:

  • Orientation. Astronauts are trained in a simulated space shuttle environment just like IT professionals prototype select application functionality in the new environment. The orientation of the astronauts is equivalent to a proof-of-concept of the application in the cloud.
  • Cutover. Astronauts, seated in the space shuttle, are moved to the launch pad from the hangar, and the carrier vehicle takes it a few miles into the sky after which it is detached. Cut … over. Similarly, there is a period of transition when the mainframe and the new platform run in parallel to ensure that the functionality continues to be delivered.
  • Launch. Four, three, two, one … Earth below us … Drifting, Falling … Floating weightless … Calling, Calling home … goes Peter Schilling’s 1983 Major Tom (Coming Home). The shuttle is launched with the astronauts continuing to do what they do … the same application functionality … in the new, agile, light-weight, lean environment. Planet Earth fades into the distance and the astronauts have been re-hosted to their new environment.


When Sittra Battle of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center shut down the last IBM Z9 mainframe, NASA’s IT successfully landed on a significant milestone in their biggest transformation journey of all.

And HP is fortunate to be part of NASA’s journey – as mentioned in Computerworld, NASA signed a decade long $2.5B outsourcing pact with HP – as well as the transformation journey of several customers. The company continues to work with customers on defining their overall application transformation strategy, factoring in multiple modernization alternatives including re-hosting services as well as moving whole data centers to a modernized environment in a Performance Optimized Data Center (POD) while re-hosting applications off the mainframe.

But then, as I outline in one of my earlier posts, Applications Transformation is a journey where you land on multiple destinations over time.

Where has your enterprise landed on your application transformation Journey?