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How to Make Everyone Love the Mainframe

Many people inside your company may never think about your mainframe. But they should if you want to put your mainframe computers to the best use. Here’s how to help your employees understand and appreciate your mainframe.

To most people at your company, your mainframe is an obscure, enigmatic machine. Few employees ever see it or interact with it. Many probably don’t even realize it is there.

Those who do might mistakenly assume that it is a “supercomputer” that they’ll never understand – even though, in reality, there is a big difference between mainframes and supercomputers.

Download our free report: State of the Mainframe for 2018

Why Your Employees Should Love Your Mainframe

It may not seem to matter much whether your employees understand your mainframe or not. If they don’t work directly with it, who cares what they know about it – right?

Wrong. In reality, getting your employees to understand your mainframe matters just as much as having them understand any other part of your business.

Mainframes remain central to business operations in many industries, from banking and insurance to transportation. If your employees don’t understand what your mainframe does and why it matters, they won’t be able to help your business derive maximum value from it.

The importance of having everyone understand and appreciate the mainframe is analogous to ensuring that all employees in a trucking company have a basic understanding of the logistics challenges that the business faces every day, or of making sure that everyone who works for a bakery understands which products it offers.

This may not seem like crucial information for employees who work in, say, accounting, or who run a cash register. But it is important for these people and everyone else to understand the core parts of the business. It will help them to feel more attached to the company, and it will ensure that they understand the rest of the business in case they ever have to step outside of their usual job duties.

Teaching Employees about the Mainframe

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So, how do you actually ensure that employees understand and appreciate the mainframe? Communicating the following information to them is key:

Which types of data the mainframe stores

You need not be a data scientist to understand basic information about the types of data – like credit card transactions or vehicle routing data – that are stored on the mainframe. When employees have a concrete sense of what the mainframe actually does, they’ll appreciate it much more.

What modern mainframe computers look like

Dispel the myth that all mainframe computers are decades-old computers stored in dark rooms lit only by green screens. Explain to your employees what your mainframe or mainframes actually look like, and how many commodity servers it would take to equal the mainframe’s computing power.

The challenges your mainframe operators face

Explain in non-technical terms the types of challenges that your technical team faces in working with mainframe commputers. For example, help employees understand that not all data is stored in the same format, and that converting data from one format to another is often a challenge when working with mainframe data.

Mainframe’s role in real-time analytics

Communicate the importance of real-time data analytics and the role that mainframes play in providing that insight for your company. It’s pretty easy to understand why real-time data analytics are so much more useful than historical data.

How much mainframes cost, and how much they save your business

Your employees might assume that maintaining mainframes is cost-inefficient. Help them to understand the business value of mainframes by explaining how much one costs to acquire, how long it can be expected to last and how its acquisition and operating costs compare to those of commodity servers (which in many cases are more expensive in the long run).

The differences between mainframes and the cloud

Some employees might think that mainframe computers are just a legacy version of the cloud. After all, both mainframes and the cloud are used to store large amounts of data in places that few people ever see. But on-premise mainframes are different from the public cloud, of course. They provide performance, scalability and compliance advantages that your employees should understand.

Mainframe security challenges

Mainframes present unique security challenges. Ensuring that your employees have a basic understanding of what those challenges are and strategies for mitigating them will help to improve your company’s overall security.

For more tips on how companies today are using mainframes and the type of information employees should understand about them, download Syncsort’s State of Mainframe for 2018 report.