Swiss startup LzLabs aims to take on one of the biggest challenges for any large enterprise IT team: migrating critical applications off legacy mainframe systems.

Mainframes can seem like an anachronism in a fast-evolving technology industry that is increasingly fixated on cheap, commodity hardware supporting open source software. But more than 70 percent of commercial transactions occur on systems which, in many cases, were built back in the sixties or seventies. Numerous large UK banks, for example, are heavily reliant on mainframes for systems of record.

Yet, while considered robust and reliable for certain uses, mainframes are costly to maintain and difficult to support, particularly due to the imminent retirement of those with knowledge of a system’s inner workings.

These problems are compounded by the considerable difficulty involved in moving a mission critical application onto modern infrastructure – a process often referred to as similar to replacing a jet engine mid-flight.