Editorial: Eggcellent News for the Mainframe

Okay, one more time. This is your data (image of a pristine egg), and this is your data on mainframe, (image of a Western omelet, gingerly placed next to a New York strip steak, a tall glass of O.J., some toast, a cup of fresh brewed, perhaps a slice of melon and a Danish). In other words, the mainframe just makes data better - the way it’s presented, the way it’s accessed and even the way it’s consumed.

And survey after survey confirms what we already knew. For example, a study by ITG found that 88 percent of the respondents were leveraging their existing mainframes to implement a Web server. Gartner, in its recent Y2K report cites that the millennium crisis has lead to a renewed interest in and demand of the mainframe.

Finally, Enterprise Systems Journal recently completed an independent study in which the results proved that the mainframe not only continues to offer unique advantages to users, but it continues to operate from a position of strength.

In fact, the top six reasons surveyed users cited for staying with a mainframe compared to a "client/server" model are: mainframes provide a high degree of performance and reliability and security; mainframes support large numbers of users; centralizing data is the least expensive way to empower users; and costs have declined.

When comparing mainframes to client/server computing, 85 percent find the mainframe more reliable (meaning less downtime and outage costs) vs. two percent, which find client/server more reliable; and 13 percent find them to be equal. Eighty-four percent find the mainframe more secure, with 2 percent favoring client/server and 14 percent saying they are equal. When it comes to operational costs, 51 percent favor mainframes, 20 percent like client/server and 29 feel they are equal. Concerning accessibility to information 39 percent prefer the mainframe, 27 percent go with CS, and 34 believe that access to be equal. And when it comes to overall reliability the mainframe garnered a 96 percent rate for mission-critical applications and client/server 88 percent. Looks like those that predicted the death of the mainframe are left with, well, egg on the face.

Further, evidence of the mainframes continued resurgence was demonstrated late this past August at the Share and Guide Technical Conference in Washington, D.C., which theme was "Capitalizing on Information Solutions for the Enterprise."

This season’s combined conference offered over 900 technical seminars that focused on topics, such as enterprise-wide management, S/390, networking, Year 2000, Windows NT, RISC, desktop computing, Java, the Internet and the Web.

IBM’s responding to the mainframe surge by announcing its latest leapfrog in the MIPS marathon, reaching an unprecedented 1040 MIPS mark with its S/390 G5 10-way Turbo model. According to Erich Baier, Project Manager for the G5 this latest announcement puts to bed the issue of CMOS versus bipolar. "CMOS technology will maintain its pace of growth," Baier tells ESJ. In addition, Parallel Sysplex users can look for stronger coupling links that are three times faster.

So what are you doing with all this processing power? Moving data. And what better way to store, move and exploit data than the Data Warehouse. Last month’s ESJ’s Data Warehouse focus piqued your interest so, beginning this month we debut "Drill Down," by Elliot King, our bi-monthly column on Data Warehousing, Mining and Marting

So, while the "open-systems" model tries to deliver on its promises of faster, cheaper computing, savvy mainframe users continue to eat their competition’s lunch and breakfast.