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Breathing New Life into the Mainframe

Most of the blog posts, magazine articles, and news stories you read focus around all the new technologies: cloud, mobile, BYOD, and everything but the kitchen sink as ‘aaS.’ It would be easy to start believing that the mainframe was a thing of the past, or at least some relic that only the oldest, most outdated IT departments hang on to, and only then because their struggling companies couldn’t afford the new stuff.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Mainframes are a powerful part of today’s business world, serving more than half of all Fortune 500 companies and handling as much as 70 to 80 percent of the world’s daily transactions. What is keeping them alive and well?

Seasoned Mainframers Near Retirement, but New Crew to Take Up Arms

A healthy chunk of mainframe programmers are nearing retirement age, which has spurred some concern among businesses that they might not be able to fill those positions. However, younger programmers-in-training do seem to be stepping up to the plate. More are choosing to study the mainframe formally or at least to self-teach those skills outside a formal classroom.

Mainframe modernization begins with a fresh crop of talent

A number of colleges and technical schools are focusing on mainframe skills, and a few are still teaching COBOL. One seasoned mainframer was pleasantly surprised to see tons of bright young faces while attending a conference in Seattle.

Bridging the Gap Between Legacy Systems and New Cloud & Mobile Environments

When designing the latest system z13, IBM built in lots of modernization capabilities to handle all of the latest IT innovations, including virtualization for hosting cloud environments, Big Data analytics, and lots of nifty capabilities to support mobile.

Download our free report: State of the Mainframe for 2018

Still, the z13 can also handle those legacy systems that businesses have been depending on to drive operations for decades. The mainframe is the best of both worlds – allowing companies to capitalize on new technologies while still holding onto those systems that brought them this far. It truly is a win-win for today’s IT departments.

Related: Welcome to the Next Era of Mainframe Computing – Performance Matters

System z Mainframe Sales Soar

The launch of IBM’s most recent mainframe – the System z13 in 2015 – drove a large spike in IBM sales.  During the first quarter after the z13 launch, System Z sales jumped an astonishing 130% adjusted for currency, the largest year-over-year rise in more than a decade. And, sales remained brisk throughout 2016.

Mainframe Modernization: IBM's z13
Launched in 2015, IBM’s System z13 drove strong sales well into 2016.

As Big Data becomes more a part of mainstream business, the mainframe is one of the most powerful, flexible, and secure infrastructures available to house and process massive data sets. Products like ZPSaver Suite help offload tasks that are CPU intensive onto specialty zIIP engines, and Ironstream can be used to glean valuable operational insights from real-time mainframe machine data by loading it into Splunk.

There really isn’t anything old or new that the mainframe isn’t prepared to take on. The mainframe is as fresh, relevant, powerful, and useful as it was in the 1960’s and ’70s. Plus, it looks spectacular for its age.

Download Syncsort’s  2018 State of the Mainframe survey report to see the 5 key trends to watch for in 2018.

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