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Mainframes Continue to Reign in 2018: Key Trends that Support Big Iron’s Sovereign Rule

Syncsort recently completed its annual survey of IT and data analytics professionals to identify trends, challenges and opportunities faced by enterprises investing in the mainframe going into 2018. Respondents represented a wide range of IT disciplines and spanned vertical industries including financial services, insurance, health care, IT and government agencies.

The survey revealed a number of key Trends for 2018.  Two very important and related findings were that the mainframe remains strategic to businesses and cost control is a priority.  In fact, 57% of respondents said the mainframe continues to be main hub for business-critical applications this year and 43% informed us that they will be using it run revenue-generating services.Read our survey report: State of the Mainframe for 2018

While the mainframe still reigns supreme in so many large organizations, and data volumes exploding, there is pressure on IT to increase capacity.  With this in mind, it’s no wonder that cost control is a major focus for 51% of the mainframers who participated in the survey. In addition, the oceans of data flowing into the mainframe from multiple enterprise data sources, including newer ones like social media and IoT, is another important reason many organizations are also looking to cut mainframe costs.  Still another reason for this trend are the widespread goals of remixing spend to help fund strategic organizational projects like AI, machine learning and predictive analytics, and to invest in meeting security and compliance requirements. Thus, the increased focus on traditional data infrastructure optimization to control costs.

How is your organization using/ planning to use the mainframe in the next 12 months?
This year’s survey underscored the mainframe’s key role as the main hub for critical business applications and the popular revenue generation and cost-cutting initiatives for Big Iron in 2018

So, organizations are looking for ways to optimize mainframe resources, reduce costs and re-invest the savings in newer technologies and use cases. In line with these goals, in the past year, organizations increased spending for mainframe capacity, new applications, and mainframe data analytics.  The survey revealed that 43% of respondents are increasing spending on capacity this year, 32% will spend more for developing new mainframe applications compared with just 24% last year, and 32% will also increase their spend on data analytics.

IBM continues to invest in the venerable IBM z/OS mainframe, consistently providing new capabilities to better serve evolving use cases.  They’ve enabled it to work with cloud environments – another area that the survey showed is important to many organizations. The bottom line?  Vendors need to step-up and provide the tools to help make the mainframe even more efficient, and to make its very strategic data available for next-generation analytics (more on that in my blog in 2 weeks!).

mainframe spending for capacity, new applications, and data analytics has increased over the prior year2
Clearly, many organizations are increasing capacity to handle new applications, and high volumes of data, and investing in data analytics to make better business decisions. Cloud support is another key focus area for mainframers.

How Will Organizations Cut Costs on the Mainframe?

So how can mainframers improve performance and reduce operating costs so they can be more efficient and reinvest $$$ for their top priorities?  Over 70% of survey respondents ranked reducing general processor CPU usage and related costs as the #1 or #2 priority, and over 56% assigned that level of important to leveraging their investment in zIIP engines by offloading more processing from the main processor. A good number are also prioritizing performance improvements by reducing elapsed time for BATCH workloads and tuning DB2.

Mainframe organizations will focus on optimizing general processor CPU usage and leveraging zIIP engines to save money and improve performance

In my next blog on March 8, I’ll dig into the importance of leverage business-critical mainframe data for next-generation analytics that help make better business decisions and build competitive advantage.

Want to learn more about the survey results?  Download the full State of the 2018 State of the Mainframe report.

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