Survey Says Big Iron a Solid Bet for the Future

The mainframe is entrenched for the long haul, respondents say

A recent survey from BMC Software Corp. should give Big Iron technologists plenty to smile about. For starters, BMC officials say, the mainframe is entrenched for the long haul: mainframe shops expect to spend more—much more—on Big Iron-related software and services, with an especial emphasis on management, replication and data movement, and database archiving software.

BMC surveyed more than 600 mainframe users, half of whom are employed by companies with $2 billion or more in annual revenues. Respondents were asked to assess a series of mainframe problem areas by ranking their importance on a scale of 1 to 10. Participants who rated any specific area as 7 or higher were then asked to drill down into more detailed questions.

BMC says IT staff and managers accounted for nearly 70 percent of all respondents, but the survey also incorporated input from CIOs and other C-level executives.

Responses were both encouraging and—in a few respects—sobering. For one thing, a clear majority of users expect that the mainframe will play an ongoing strategic role in their IT environment. Similarly, a “significant majority” of users anticipate that IT spending will increase across a range of mainframe-related software categories—including storage management, replication and data movement, and database archiving.

Elsewhere, MIPS growth continues apace, with 55 percent of respondents reporting solid growth in their overall MIPS footprints, and 41 percent specifically citing new application deployments as an important contributing factor to that growth. Only one-fifth of respondents anticipated that their MIPS usages would decline. Similarly, customers who cited MIPS growth (driven either by new application development or legacy growth) also reported significantly higher adoption of z/OS Websphere and MQ-Series.

Mainframe users also cited a number of ongoing “pain points”—including root-cause analysis, monitoring and tuning in dynamic DB2 SQL environments, and—of course—change and configuration management. More vexing still, respondents report, is the matrix of (often conflicting) issues—things like compliance, storage management, data security, and systems availability—with which they must now contend.

Concerns about data security and privacy management, in particular, seem to be paramount; a majority of respondents anticipated researching or acquiring data security or data privacy products in the near-term, for example. Regardless of how you spin the results, BMC officials say, the takeaway is that the vast majority of organizations are struggling with far-from-static IT ecosystems.

BMC is itself a player in many of these markets. Company officials, for their part, say BMC is in the process of enhancing its existing products (or of introducing new products) to address these and other pain points. For example, survey respondents cited root-cause analysis as a particular mainframe-related pain point. BMC’s current management tools aren’t quite up to snuff in this respect, officials concede, so the company developed a new offering—BMC Impact Integration for z/OS—that purports to help reduce root-cause analysis delays by pipelining mainframe events directly into BMC’s Service Impact Manager tool (SIM).

The upshot, BMC says, is that system operators can use SIM to quickly map events from critical mainframe subsystems to their points of impact in the business. Impact Integration is shipping now, officials say. Ditto for BMC’s new Backup and Recovery Solution for IMS, which integrates IMS backup and recovery capabilities into BMC’s Web-based console.

In the forward-looking department, BMC plans to flesh out its DB2 archiving and recovery tools—viz., BMC Copy Plus for DB2 and BMC Recover Plus for DB2—with new encryption capabilities, slated for delivery next month. Later this year, BMC expects to launch a new product for mainframe topology discovery; complete the integration of its Atrium CMDB with Batch Impact Manager; and announce new enhancements for BMC MAINVIEW Transaction Analyzer.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.