10 Reasons Why Mainframes Are Still at Work in Enterprise Data Centers

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10 Reasons Why Mainframes Are Still at Work in Enterprise Data Centers

Many of the world's business enterprises still rely on mainframes for many critical business processes. But with cloud computing, compact multi-processor servers and hyperscale data centers, many IT industry observers believe the classic mainframe computer's best days are behind it. But a new study from enterprise IT solutions provider BMC suggests that mainframes are going to continue toiling away in data centers for many years to come. In a survey of more than 1,000 tech and business executives, the company found that the mainframe has “long-term viability” and that the corporate world is still heavily reliant upon the technology for general business needs. Most importantly, young people appear to have interest working with  mainframes. This slide show covers the main points of the BMC Mainframe Research Report.

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There’s Long-Term Value

BMC's research found that 91 percent of executives see “long-term viability” in mainframe computing while 47 percent of executives think that the mainframes will “grow and attract new workloads” in the coming year. That figure is up from 42 percent who said the same thing in 2016.

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Mainframe MIPS Are Still Growing

Mainframe processing power measured in MIPS (millions of instructions per second) is continuing to grow. According to the BMC survey of more than 1,000 respondents, 48 percent said that MIPS use grew in the last 12 months. Half of respondents added that MIPS use will grow over the next year.

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Cost Reduction Is Top Mainframe Priority

According to BMC, the most important mainframe priority in 2018 will be “cost reduction” and “cost optimization.” Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said that cost savings is their top charge when looking ahead to the mainframe use in 2018.

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Other Hot Button Issues Include Data Security, Application Availability

BMC found that 44 percent of respondents will make data privacy and security a top priority in their mainframe operations, closely followed by “application availability” and “application modernization,” both of ere cited by 42 percent of respondents. Only 18 percent of respondents said outsourcing was a priority their organizations.

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Data and Transaction Volumes Are Up

Data volumes on the mainframe went up in the past year in 51 percent of cases, according to the study, and didn’t change at all in 34 percent. Just 15 percent of respondents said data volumes were down. So it's no surprise that transaction volumes increased in 52 percent of cases and remained static in 33 percent. The same number–15 percent–of respondents said transaction volumes were down.

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What’s Happening with Workload Volatility

In 46 percent of cases, executives reported that they witnessed workload volatility and unpredictability in the past year, just topping the 42 percent of people who said they didn’t experience any change. Just 12 percent of executives said workplace volatility and unpredictability had declined.

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Enterprises Investing to Close 'Skills Gap’

Executives acknowledged in the study that there’s a skills gap affecting the mainframe. According to BMC, 39 percent of respondents currently offer training to address that skills gap, leaving six in ten that do not. However, 22 percent of executives said that they’re addressing the skills gap by moving some workloads off the mainframe.

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Who’s Working With Mainframes?

Although the mainframe has been criticized for not attracting young professionals, 53 percent of all those working on the mainframe are under the age of 50. The biggest sub-group includes those between the ages of 30 and 49, which account for 46 percent of the entire population. That group is just behind the 43 percent of professionals between the ages of 50 and 64.

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Millennials Like the Mainframe

There has been some speculation that Millennials, which BMC characterizes as people under age 30, won’t find value in the mainframe. However, 54 percent of Millennials said that they expect mainframe usage to grow within their organizations in the coming years. Seven in ten Millennials said the mainframe will “grow and attract new workloads industry-wide.”

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Biggest Mainframe Challenges

So, what might hold back the mainframe? According to half of respondents, the biggest problem is IBM software costs. But 44 percent of respondents said that hardware costs are the biggest problem, matching the number of people who were concerned about staffing shortages and the skills gap.

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