The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) Unemployment Insurance Program (MNUI) has launched an initiative to modernize the program’s IT systems and migrate their key Unemployment Insurance self service application to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

MN DEED’s mission is to empower the growth of the Minnesota economy, for everyone. Technology innovation plays a key role in the program’s strategic goals to support Minnesotan’s through Unemployment Insurance benefits. Minnesota’s UI program has long been a leader in modernization of their system being the first state to have a fully modernized and integrated system in 2008.

MNUI had initially planned to migrate their Windows-based Java application that was built in 2008 to AWS, and to subsequently migrate their Db2 database to AWS. After initial testing indicated that this staged approach could result in poor application performance, the MNUI team made the decision to migrate both the application and their Db2 database to AWS. They turned to Astadia to plan and execute their database migration.

MN DEED engaged Astadia for a multi-phase project to migrate the agency’s Db2 databases to Db2 running on Windows and AWS. The resulting cloud-based systems will help the organization to align its vision with other agencies throughout the state, saving taxpayer money and paving the way for future innovation.

MN DEED chose Astadia for this project because of its depth of experience, including its proven track record with mainframe modernization projects and experience working with cloud migration to AWS.

“We were looking for experts in Db2 migration. AWS had been helping us with the application side of the migration, and we wanted a partner who had that ongoing relationship with AWS,” said Sara Reller, Business Redesign and Technology Director for Unemployment Insurance at MN DEED.


Leaders at MN DEED sought to reduce mainframe operating costs and take advantage of AWS cloud native services to further reduce the overhead associated with the administration of on-premise systems. They also sought to align the agency’s IT strategy with a broader statewide initiative to migrate information systems to the cloud.

“We’re striving to work in a way that allows people to specialize. Modernizing our systems is affording us the agility we need to design processes that work better for everyone. It’s also easier for us to give people opportunities when we break the work down differently.  It enables them to grow and develop their skills in ways that they otherwise might not be able to,” Reller commented.

The team at MNUI had successfully initiated the migration of the application to AWS, however, as they prepared to move to the AWS cloud, they realized that latency between the application and their mainframe DB2 database could become an issue. MNUI engaged Astadia to help them execute on the next phase of their vision, eliminating those bottlenecks and paving the way for innovation on the cloud. Astadia was also able to provide recommendations for the next steps of moving into a cloud-native database to help the UI program plan for a longer strategic project.

Shortly after project execution began, the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold around the world. For MN DEED and other state unemployment agencies across the United States, the pandemic created an unprecedented need for services and prompted significant changes to the structure and timing of unemployment benefits. Nevertheless, the project remained on track and Astadia and MN DEED were able to deliver their phase-one results on schedule. The migration to AWS was completed at a critical time during the pandemic, and led to improved performance for some of the MNUI program’s most critical processes.


Astadia was tasked with migrating Db2 databases to Db2 LUW (Linux/UNIX/Windows both their on-premise data center and AWS. Stability and reliability have been top priorities, so MN DEED chose to implement their Db2 migration in accordance with IBM’s HADR (high-availability disaster recovery) specification.

To further mitigate risk and ensure a smooth transition, the project was broken into multiple phases, beginning with a phase-one proof-of-concept that would serve as a test case for the full migration to AWS.

Despite the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team held to an aggressive timeline and delivered the promised results on time and within budget.


MN DEED and Astadia successfully completed the database migration project, providing a clear path forward and laying the foundation for future innovation on the AWS cloud. The agency will achieve several key benefits:

  • With their transition away from the mainframe, MN DEED is achieving significant cost savings by eliminating mainframe operating costs altogether.
  • The MNUI program’s IT systems are now aligned with the state’s broader strategy for moving IT systems to the cloud, leveraging the native cloud services available on AWS and further reducing the cost burden associated with mainframe systems.
  • Agency employees, Minnesota businesses, and Minnesotans are benefiting from faster system performance, while maintaining stability and reliability.


As noted, this project faced significant headwinds, as MN DEED encountered an unprecedented surge in demand for its services while scrambling to accommodate legislative and regulatory changes made in response to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the combined project team came through and delivered on schedule.

In partnership with Astadia and AWS, MN DEED has taken a major step forward in modernizing its IT environment, reducing costs, and paving the way for innovation in the years to come.

Additional resources:

IBM Mainframe to AWS Reference Architecture White Paper [Download]

Astadia Replatforming Solution

Astadia Refactoring Solution

AWS Migrations

About the client

ORGANIZATION: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Unemployment Insurance (MN DEED/MNUI)

INDUSTRY: State & local government

USE CASES : Mainframe Modernization, Replatforming, Migration to Amazon Web Services

RESULT: Reduced annual operating, increased performance, access to cloud services


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