In BMC's annual mainframe user survey, more than 84 of respondents say that they plan to maintain or grow their use of MIPS over the next year.
Mainframes aren't going to disappear any time soon, given that a significant
majority of users not only plan to maintain or grow their use of MIPS
over the next year, but also that many of them are interested in big iron's
growing role in hybrid operating environments.
"The mainframe is still looking good, especially in a down
economy," Bill Miller, president of mainframe services management at BMC
Software, said in an interview with eWEEK. "The reality is that the
mainframe is still a good place to be, and MIPS
[usage is] growing."
BMC, which sells mainframe management
software, on Oct. 25 released its annual survey of mainframe users and found
that customers continue to rely on the systems' reliability, security and
scalability, Miller said. In addition, they see a future for the mainframe that
includes a wider variety of workloads and a growing number of environments,
such as clouds.
Among the survey's key findings was that 84 percent of respondents said they
plan to maintain or grow their use of MIPS.
About 57 percent said they expect the mainframe will bring on new workloads
over the next year, and 37 percent said mainframes will be a useful platform
over the long run. By comparison, 4 percent suggested they are considering
moving away from the mainframes within the next five years.
In addition, 65 percent of mainframe users said their top priority is
cutting IT expenses. Other priorities include disaster recovery (34 percent),
application modernization (30 percent) and aligning IT with business needs (29
BMC surveyed 1,707 mainframe users
worldwide, and almost half of the respondents work in companies with revenues
of more than $1 billion. As with past surveys, key among the reasons mainframe
users stick with big iron are the centralized management, speed and
performance, availability, and security, according to BMC.
The results dovetail with the growth IBM
is seeing in its System z mainframe business. In its third-quarter earnings,
which the company announced Oct. 18, IBM saw
its mainframe revenues grow 15 percent and MIPS
jump 54 percent.
The interest in driving down IT costs was illustrated in the rising interest
in using specialty engines, or special processors that are used to run
particular workloads that are offloaded from the system's CP (central
processor). More than half of the larger IT departments surveyed said they plan
to expand their use of such specialty engines over the next two years.
Over the past decade, IBM, in an effort
to expand the number and variety of workloads its System z mainframes can run,
has created specialty engines, such as the IFL for running Linux applications;
zIIP for such mission-critical back-end applications as databases, ERP
(enterprise resource planning) and BI (business intelligence); and zAAP for
running Java and XML workloads. By offloading such workloads from the more
expensive CP, enterprises can save money on licensing costs and free up the CP
for other tasks.
In particular, the zIIP and IFL specialty engines are getting the most
attention from businesses, Miller said.
Enterprises also are interested in growing the mainframe's presence in
hybrid data center environments that run a mix of systems and OSes-including
z/OS and z/Linux-a direction in which IBM
officials are pushing big iron with the release in July of its zEnterprise
mainframe, which is built to be a central management hub of sorts for data
centers through which other systems-including IBM Power7 and x86 servers and
other mainframes-are managed. Through the zEnterprise, entire data center
systems can be managed as a single system in a virtualized environment.
IBM spent $1.5 billion developing the
zEnterprise, and officials when launching the systems said businesses could
reduce data center management costs by as much as 70 percent.
Miller said that for the most part, BMC
officials are seeing interest among mainframe users to continue using the
massive systems. There doesn't seem to be as much interest among businesses
that aren't currently running mainframes to bring them into the data center.
However, the zEnterprise system-BMC is
running one in-house, Miller said-could change that to some degree as
enterprises wrestle with ways to manage their growing distributed environments.
"It might give folks thoughts [of investing in mainframe
technology]," he said.
Management continues to be an issue for users, with 74 percent saying they
interested in cross-platform monitoring and event management.