Survey: Mainframes Doing Quite Well, Thank You

Mainframe computers may seem like ancient relics from the past in today's modern IT environment, but a new survey from BMC Software Inc. shows they're faring quite well in the age of always-on digital business.

"The research reinforced what our customers have been saying for many years -- the mainframe is a strategic, powerful platform and is here to stay," reads a blog post published today by Tom Vogel of BMC, which includes mainframe solutions among its many digital enterprise offerings.

The company surveyed more than 1,200 professionals in its new mainframe survey, the 11th such annual study it conducts to gain new insights into how digital business affects mainframe shops.

BMC divided survey respondents into three groups according to their approaches to mainframe computing: those increasing mainframe use (58 percent of respondents); those keeping usage at about the same level (23 percent); and those reducing their usage (19 percent).

The top two findings emphasized by BMC in its survey report are:

  • Digital business is impacting the mainframe. Respondents are seeing higher data and transaction volumes, as well as increases in the speed of application change. And more activity creates higher workload unpredictability and volatility.
  • The platform is here to stay: 89 percent of respondents predict the platform's long-term viability. These companies choose to depend on the mainframe because of its superior reliability, performance, and security.

Over the next year, Fogel said, top priorities in mainframe shops will continue to be cost optimization, compliance, availability and application modernization.

"These priorities are all tied to the impact of the digital economy," Vogel said. "Many organizations are applying various new strategies and technologies, like Java, to help meet these priorities. In fact, 72 percent of respondents are running Java applications on the mainframe. Many companies surveyed plan to take a variety of additional actions to optimize data, systems, and costs. The group increasing mainframe use, in particular, is focusing on reducing resource usage during peak periods and exploiting zIIP specialty engines to reduce costs."

Other survey results include:

  • 58 percent of respondents see higher transaction volumes.
  • 67 percent see increased use of Java.
  • 67 percent of large companies have seen increasing mainframe capacity in the last 12 months and the majority has seen higher activity.
  • 88 percent of large companies will maintain or increase mainframe capacity.
  • Half of respondents keep more than 50 percent of their data on a mainframe.
  • In the "Increasing" group, companies are experiencing greater growth in volumes of data (72 percent), transactions (79 percent) and databases (60 percent), while also seeing higher speeds of application change (63 percent) and more workload unpredictability and volatility (63 percent).
  • 73 percent of the Increasing group that use Java say that Java is growing because of new apps being written in Java.
  • Linux in production has grown year over year (used by 41 percent of respondents in 2014; 48 percent in 2015; 52 percent this year).

"Mainframes play a key role in digital business as many digital applications are based on mobile or handheld device access to data stored on the mainframe," BMC quoted IDC analyst Tim Grieser as saying. "This is driving growth in mainframe transactions and data volumes."

Survey respondents mostly lived in the Americas (51 percent) and most were technical professionals or managers (71 percent). In terms of company size, the biggest group of respondents (48 percent) came from organizations of more than $1 billion in size. Among industries, financial and insurance companies (34 percent) were represented more than technology companies (23 percent).

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for 1105 Media.