Big Iron pessimism persists

IBM's mainframe unit finished with a strong Q4, a new release of its z/OS and more publicity of its zSeries Academic Initiative, a program to promote Big Iron to the Generation Y set. Why, then, are so many mainframe pros pessimistic about Big Iron's future? The problem, some old mainframe hands say, is that IBM still hasn't done much to address Big Iron's most intractable problems.

The cost of running COBOL, Assembly and other traditional mainframe workloads is still prohibitively expensive, they argue, even if next-generation workloads such as zLinux and J2EE have helped recast the mainframe as a viable option.

Ken Sharpe, a mainframe systems programmer with a southwestern state government, says: "The problem is that we are now developing SQL DB2 stored procedures on DB2 for z/OS--not COBOL. The processing of this code needs to fall into the new technology category. IBM needs to make this competitive if they want to keep this development deployed under z/OS. This means both software and hardware costs." Consequently, his org is paying more to develop and deploy non-traditional workloads on its mainframes, Sharp says.

Sharp and his mainframe colleagues expect to be programming on IBM's biggest mainframe system to date, the z9. "We are this month scheduled to migrate from a 2064-1C3 to a 2094-109 [z9] all because of this DB2 workload. It would be sad to see IBM lose their customer base because of this," he argues.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at [email protected].