More than half of users encounter unexpected integration problems

More than half of large IBM mainframe users in a study by Market Clarity regularly encounter unexpected integration problems, and...

More than half of large IBM mainframe users in a study by Market Clarity regularly encounter unexpected integration problems, and two-thirds described their mainframe access and connections as complex.

The main problems come from internal communications, security, adherence to standards, internal skills, multi-threading, performance, connectivity using web technologies such as Soap and TCP/IP, and software incompatibility. These problems persisted despite the use of web services as mechanism of linking disparate IT systems.

Stephen Martin, managing director of Market Clarity, said, "Those using mainframes are big companies with unique IT set-ups. Because of that, they genuinely believe that it is not possible to predict problems, and that you just have to allow for them and build in contingency. They do not really accept it is possible to have some standardised solutions."

"You always hope the problems will not happen to you, and this is somewhat surprising when the money involved is so big and the projects are so huge."

The research indicated that many companies try to solve integration issues themselves. "When they hit a problem, they tend not to call in experts," said Martin.

"On one level that sounds a bit stupid, but in reality, if you are in the middle of a project, you are not going to call in outside people because of the time it will take to familiarise them."

Andy Gutteridge, vice-president EMEA operations at mainframe integrator Neon Systems, said IBM mainframe users go to IBM when they hit problems.

Martin said mainframe managers will often use the name and "safety" of IBM, rather than a smaller integrator when they have to explain cost overruns to the board.

"People pounce on the small supplier and ask why you chose them, but tend to react differently if you can prove you cut a good deal with IBM," said Gutteridge.

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