BMC Software officials expect that mainframes will play a significant role for businesses as the economy crawls out from under the worldwide recession.
BMC on Sept. 29 will release the results of a survey of 1,500 global mainframe users that officials say indicate that enterprises are looking to the systems to help modernize applications, eliminate unplanned events and improve cost efficiencies.
All these goals can be addressed by mainframes, according to Bill Miller, president of mainframe service management at BMC.
"In some ways, the economy has made people feel better about the mainframe," Miller said in an interview.
At the same time that BMC releases the survey results, it also will unveil its Capacity Trend Advisor, a product designed to help businesses using mainframes-as well as distributed computing environments and virtualization technology-to better plan their computing capacity and avoid overprovisioning.
According to the survey, two-thirds of the respondents said they see mainframes as growing and attracting new workloads, with availability, security and centralization of data still the key focus of MIPS growth.
Mainframe vendors such as IBM and Unisys, as well as software makers like BMC and CA, have been making significant pushes to make the systems more cost-effective and easier to manage, as well as a viable alternative for modern workloads.
For example, CA on Sept. 21 rolled out the latest version of its mainframe database management offering to help DB2 customers use computing capacity more efficiently. CA Database Management r12 for DB2 for z/OS offers improved performance management, database administration and recovery, according to CA, which has initiated a strategy dubbed Mainframe 2.0.
In August, a CA survey found that mainframes are still valuable to enterprises.
For its part, BMC also is using the products gained in its purchase of messaging middleware vendor MQSoftware in August, which gives the company the messaging middleware for both distribute and mainframe environments.
BMC's survey found the application modernization, disaster recovery, server virtualization and MIPS utilization are the top four priorities of mainframe users.
Respondents also said that while they are committed to the mainframe, they're also finding that corporate executives are now more open to mainframes, thanks in large part to the economy, which is keeping pressure on to cut costs while growing productivity.
The growth of specialty processors for particular mainframe workloads, like Linux and Java, is a key way to help businesses reduce their growth in MIPS, Miller said. The cost of a general-purpose processor and accompanying software can grow to $7,200 per MIPS. Enterprises can cut that figure down to as low as $200 per MIPS by offloading workloads onto specialty engines.
More than 56 percent of respondents-and more than 75 percent of large enterprises-expect to grow their MIPS over the next year, and 67 percent of respondents say they are aligning their mainframes and distributed environments.
There also is some concern around the issue of the aging work force of mainframe programmers. Miller said that while most businesses are keeping an eye on the skills issue, other concerns are more important.
Since 2004, IBM has sponsored a program designed to help universities and colleges build mainframe skills programs. On Sept. 18, IBM announced that more than 600 schools in 61 countries are participating in the IBM Academic Initiative, in which more than 50,000 students have participated.