Mainframe confidence growing, survey says

Optimism about the future of mainframe computing has jumped 13 per cent during the past year, a new survey has found.

The customer survey, conducted annually by BMC Software, also found it challenged the view of expensive mainframe computing platforms often operating in isolation from the rest of IT.

More than 1,100 respondents said labour costs associated with mainframes were much less than general IT averages, while transaction performance, superior data serving, availability and security were cited as key advantages.

Almost two thirds (63 per cent) currently operating separate mainframe and distributed systems said having shared tools and applications across both platforms was very important and something they plan to implement. While broad business service management (BSM) disciplines including service desk, change management and IT service management were seen as particularly important tool set features.

But 29 per cent reported that their mainframe and distributed operations were organised together, along with shared operational management, to create common governance across platforms.

And another 38 per cent reported that, while the mainframes are organised separately from their distributed IT environments, they are subject to a level of common standards and operational guidelines.

Meanwhile, customers that continue to invest in the mainframe that continued cost reductions and productivity improvement remained at the top of their operational agenda.

"There is a very active market eager to leverage the unique capabilities of the mainframe for business success," said Rich Ptak, co-founder and managing partner at IT analyst firm Ptak, Noel & Associates.

He said the survey confirmed increasing interest in cross-platform governance management and a maturing attitude towards platform transparency.

"Additionally, as the proportion of spending is weighted more towards software versus labour and hardware, this shows that mainframe users can focus on getting maximum benefit from platform applications rather than routine support and maintenance tasks," added Ptak.

In line with Ptak's observations, respondents in Europe, Middle East and Africa predicted the highest growth and spending increases on the platform, and reported the largest installations in terms of capacity over the three years BMC has conducted the survey.

This was perhaps due to the fact that, while 43 per cent said their overall mainframe environment is mature and operationally stable, nearly half (49 per cent) indicated that their operations are experiencing "new challenges," in the face of continued growth, increased availability requirements and ongoing pressure from regulatory compliance and controls. In addition, software emerged as the dominant cost, consuming 40 per cent of mainframe operations budgets.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.