Mainframe continues to defy recession

IBM zEnterprise mainframe

Businesses expect to increase their mainframe capacity and bring new workloads to the platform in the coming year, despite tighter IT budgets.

More than four fifths of companies currently using mainframe computers expect usage of the systems to be steady, or to grow. Companies are also set to make more use of "speciality engines" on their mainframes to stretch the systems' use further.

The 2010 Global Mainframe User Survey, carried out by IT management software vendor BMC found that 84 per cent of CIOs and other senior IT staff surveyed expected their MIPS usage, or mainframe processing capacity, to grow. Close to 60 per cent of businesses surveyed also expected the mainframe to carry out more of their computing tasks in the coming year.

Businesses continue to invest in mainframe technology, despite the growth in alternative platforms, in particular "commodity" X86-based servers. BMC's researchers found that one attraction of the mainframe was its ability to handle multiple workloads and to act as a platform for server consolidation. IBM's z/Linux implementation is growing quickly, as is the use of zIIP speciality engines for handling large database and utility loads.

The research also found that businesses continued to look for IT cost savings, through server virtualisation and consolidation, and reducing overall MIPS usage. Companies said they were more concerned with cost control, and reducing the impact of outages, than with either business-IT alignment or modernising their infrastructures.

Mainframe usage has also been boosted by the launch earlier this year of IBM"s zEnterprise system.

According to John Wright, CIO at The Land Registry, the growth in other IT platforms has not reduced the usefulness of the mainframe.

"As a leading UK institution the mainframe plays a vital role in delivering our business services," he said. "As infrastructures grow more complex and integrations occur across varied environments it is important that we are able to manage from a cross-enterprise perspective, and [we] continue to include the mainframe as a critical piece of the IT puzzle."