The Importance of Mainframe in a Disruptive IT Environment

The most powerful and effective enterprise technology environments rely on a mix of mainframe and distributed computing to power modern applications.

The mainframe’s strengths lie not only in processing power, but also in cost efficiency. ComputerWeekly cited IBM data that shows a single IBM System z10 enterprise mainframe has “the equivalent capacity of 1,500 x86 servers with an 85 percent smaller footprint and up to 85 percent lower energy costs.” There are also labor and operational benefits. To run a real-time, 24/7 high-availability distributed environment, you would need seven times the number of IT administrators than if you were to run the same application on a mainframe, said ComputerWeekly, citing WinterGreen Research data.

Of course, distributed platforms have their own benefits, including a much lower initial investment compared to mainframe, as well as platform flexibility. However, that allure can lead to misguided technology decisions.

Harness the Power of Both Platforms

Writing for Business Computing World, Marcel den Hartog of CA Technologies explained that the rise of distributed technologies decades ago encouraged some businesses to move away from mainframe and instead design applications in distributed environments. That led to some unexpected headaches.

“When these applications went into production, we soon found that the cost of running them was a lot higher than we had expected,” wrote den Hartog. “We simply did not know how these new systems would behave under heavy workloads. We never realized that the one server we thought we needed would eventually change into 20 servers.”

Eventually, smart enterprises realized that different applications require different levels of computing support. Your heaviest processing-hungry applications run best on a mainframe. Smaller applications are perfectly suited for distributed environments. Finding the right mix can help you make maximize cost and processing benefits.

This mix will be especially important moving forward, as more businesses look to develop powerful mobile applications for a mobile-crazed market. For example, Citigroup was an early adopter of IBM’s z13 mainframes, which touts the ability to process 2.5 billion transactions per day with mobile and online encryption plus real-time analytics. In an in-depth interview, Citigroup executives told American Banker that the mainframe offered the security, processing power, quick development capabilities and analytics capabilities they needed for modern banking services.

That’s just one example of how the mainframe continues to play a critical role in modern, disruptive enterprise IT environments.

Interested in moving from distributed to mainframe? With common open source tools, you can easily automate the discovery of those workloads and create templates to recreate them in Linux on any platform. Register for SHARE San Jose to learn more in the session “Migrate Linux Workloads to the Mainframe Using Open Source Tools” hosted by Neil M. Bornstein, March 9 at 4:30 p.m.

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