The Mainframe and Innovation: Not Mutually Exclusive

Study shows majority of global IT decision-makers consider the mainframe highly strategic.

Study shows majority of global IT decision-makers consider the mainframe highly strategic.

Don’t count the mainframe out of your innovation plans. Despite continuing exaggerated reports that the mainframe is dead, the fact is the mainframe continues to play a key and increasing role in the technology strategy for the majority of IT professionals worldwide.

For instance, the core data processed and maintained on today’s Big Iron is key to many companies’ Big Data strategies. Others plan to base hybrid cloud services on the mainframe, and many more are enabling mobile management of the mainframe. Why? Because more than 80% of IT decision makers worldwide confirm the mainframe is a “highly strategic part of their IT plans,” according to a new CA Technologies study conducted by Decipher Research that surveyed some 623 IT professionals in 11 countries.

If you follow the money, the results are the same. The research reveals that nearly half (46%) of global respondents expect to increase spend on mainframe software in the next 12 to 18 months, while 36% anticipate an uptake in hardware spending during the same period. And 44% of global respondents said they plan to increase spend on mainframe-related services.

“Companies running mainframes are largely now committed to the platform,” says James Governor, founder and analyst at UK-based Redmonk. “We’re now seeing a modernization wave, where the customer modernizes its existing mainframe, rather than seeking to modernize by migrating to an alternative.”

“The Mainframe as a Mainstay of the Enterprise 2012” report from CA Technologies provides great detail on how the mainframe will play a critical role in several areas going forward, but let’s start by looking at the survey results. More than half of global respondents (58%) believe the mainframe is or will be a highly strategic platform in their cloud computing efforts. Some 63% of global respondents confirmed they are implementing private and hybrid clouds on the mainframe within the next 36 months.

Because the mainframe offers myriad benefits, including high throughput, near continuous availability, unmatched scalability and security, it should come as no surprise that the primary reasons the mainframe is being seen as an ideal enabler for cloud are flexibility in the delivery of new services, scalability and security. The platform is at once resilient and flexible; two critical traits for today’s sophisticated business environments. And now that mainframes fit nicely within complex, heterogeneous environments, the opportunities for innovation are endless.

Take another example drawn from the survey results. As I discussed in my February article in the Enterprise Systems Journal, Next-Generation Business Service Management — The Year Ahead, nearly 90% of organizations indicated they will be tearing down their current IT management silos by implementing a hybrid, cross-platform management model with shared budget, staffing and leadership. Breaking down the walls between mainframe and distributed environments will further the mainframe’s reach into emerging technology investments and eliminate the perception of Big Iron as back-office support system. Companies are not only converging their management approach to couple mainframe and distributed environments, but they’ve also been enabling remote management of the mainframe environment. Forty-four percent of global respondents currently enable mobile management of the mainframe or will in the next six months. Another 30% of worldwide respondents predict the same in six to 18 months.

IT decision makers realize the mainframe provides the perfect platform for emerging trends expected to transform enterprise IT. Take Big Data. Big Iron can directly address this significant growth of real-time data and the need for massive processing power to collate and analyze that information. In the name of “cost savings,” many organizations have implemented a systematic program of periodically creating copies of their business critical data and transmitting it to other platforms for business insight and analytics processing. In order to enable IT at the speed of business, today’s environments can no longer accept the latency in this process and the fact that the results produced by querying these copies are inherently stale as soon as the copy is available. The economics have changed sufficiently to make the power, scalability and proximity to the data that the mainframe provides as the most important factors on performing the analytics on the live data.

This worldwide data proves the mainframe can no longer just be considered a legacy part of IT’s past, but rather Big Iron can be seen on the horizon as a strategic player in multiple future IT plans. Tech leaders must not only commit to optimizing their mainframe environments, but also to extracting and applying the value of the mainframe to new technology endeavors such as cloud computing and Big Data to further innovative projects for the business. With the power and reliability of the mainframe behind IT, the opportunities for business innovation are endless.

Written by

Scott Fagen

A distinguished engineer reporting to CA Technologies' architecture team, Scott is the chief architect for…

Published in

View this topic
  • James Holland

    This is great. Hooray for Disney’s imagineers!


    become a new brand in the share market research with its accurate research. Proven
    itself always right whether market is bull or bear. Last week all paid clients
    booked handsome profit in NIFTY, BANKINIFTY & STOCKS. Now for the coming
    week we expect more correction can come in NIFTY as the IRAQ issue is getting
    more tense, If it happens more then you will see a sharp fall in all world marketNSE BSE, STOCK TIPSbecause as we know all world run on
    crude & most of the crude comes from IRAQ. So be ready for a sharp fall so
    sell will be the best strategy for next week also. Traders can make a sell
    position in NIFTY around 7600-7650 with stoploss 7750 for the target of
    7300-7200.One can also make a sell call NIFTY 50 stocks as per NIFTY levels. You
    can also take our two days free trial to check our accuracy. For further updates
    you can visit our website.



  • king lear

    testing comment functionality, please do not publish this

  • Rachel Macik

    Love the personal pic :)

    • CAHighlight

      Thank you!

  • Plutora Inc

    This is a good case study. 2.3 sec’s off a login transaction is big.

  • Michele Hudnall

    While the analysts were hyping DevOps, I posted the oversight of not including security as part of that discussion as you are highlighting here. Instead of just talking DevOps, it should be DOS (what’s old is new again :-) – DevOpsSec. As a previous AppDev person, it’s the app, who’s using it, why and where rather than the device and having the service available.

    As you rightly point, out Security should be baked into the solution.

    Nice Post and Timely!


    • CAHighlight

      Thank you for your feedback Michele. Agreed – security cannot be overlooked. Appreciate your input!

  • Mitesh

    I would love a printed copy

  • Lars Johansson

    I love the idea of BYOID! This makes me choose if I am almost anonymous (with my Hotmail Nicname) or official with identity from an official organisation. My Identity Provider will attach identity with right level of LoA according to the need of the Service provider.

    • CAHighlight

      Thank you for your comment. BYOID has tangible benefits for end users and relying parties but it also has to be weighed in the balance with potential risks and liability concerns. It will be interesting to see how BYOID plays out in the enterprise.