Lead Analyst: Cal Braunstein
According to the 2012 BMC Software Inc. survey of mainframe users, the mainframe continues to be their platform of choice due to its superior availability, security, centralized data serving and performance capabilities. It will continue to be a critical business tool that will grow driven by the velocity, volume, and variety of applications and data.
- According to 90 percent of the 1,243 survey respondents the mainframe is considered to be a long-term solution, and 50 percent of all respondents agreed it will attract new workloads. Asia-Pacific users reported the strongest outlook, as 57 percent expect to rely on the mainframe for new workloads. The top three IT priorities for respondents were keeping IT costs down, disaster recovery, and application modernization. The top priority, keeping costs down, was identified by 69 percent of those surveyed, up from 60 percent from 2011. Disaster recovery was unchanged at 34 percent while application modernization was selected by 30 percent, virtually unchanged as well. Although availability is considered a top benefit of the mainframe, 39 percent of respondents reported an unplanned outage; however, only 10 percent of organizations stated they experienced any impact from an outage. The primary causes of outages were hardware failures (31 percent), system software failure (30 percent), in-house application failure (28 percent), and change process failure (22 percent).
- 59 percent of respondents expect MIPS capacity to grow as they modernize and add applications to address business needs. The top four factors for continued investment in the mainframe were platform availability advantage (74 percent), security strengths (7o percent), superior centralized data server (68 percent), and transaction throughput requirements best suited to a mainframe (65 percent). Only 29 percent felt that the costs of migration were too high or use of alternative solutions did not have a reasonable return on investment (ROI), up from 26 percent the previous two years.
- There remains a continued concern about the shortage of skilled mainframe staff. Only about a third of respondents were very concerned about the skills issues, although at least 75 percent of those surveyed expressed some level of concern. The top methods being used to address the skills shortage are training internally (53 percent), hire experienced staff (40 percent), outsource (37 percent) and automation (29 percent). Additionally, more than half of the respondents stated the mainframe must be incorporated into the enterprise management processes. Enterprises are recognizing the growing complexity of the hybrid data center and the need for simple, cross-platform solutions.
RFG POV: Some things never change – mainframes still are predominant in certain sectors and will continue to be so over the visible horizon, and yet the staffing challenges linger. 20 years after mainframes were declared dinosaurs they remain valuable platforms and growing. In fact, mainframes can be the best choice for certain applications and data serving, as they effectively and efficiently deal with the variety, velocity, veracity, volume, and vulnerability of applications and data while reducing complexity and cost. RFG’s latest study on System z as the lowest cost database server (http://lnkd.in/ajiUrY ) shows the use of the mainframe can cut the costs of IT operations around 50 percent. However, with Baby Boomers becoming eligible for retirement, there is a greater concern and need for IT executives to utilize more automated, self-learning software and implement better recruitment, training and outsourcing programs. IT executives should evaluate mainframes as the target server platform for clouds, secure data serving, and other environments where zEnterprise’s heterogeneous server ecosystem can be used to share data from a single source, and optimize capacity and performance at a low-cost.