Plenty of life in mainframes

Those assuming that it was time to take the mainframe in the corner out for a long walk of a short pier will be surprised to hear that demand is holding firm for the technology

Those in the channel with mainframe expertise who thought their days of being in demand were numbered will be heartened to hear that demand is increasing for the technology.

Some industry watchers might have called the last rites on the mainframe, just as they have been reeled off numerous times for the desktop PC, but research from Wipro and Ensono is challenging that prediction.

The firms called on Forrester to help them get a clear picture of what is happening with mainframes and found that 50% of businesses are looking to expand their capabilities.

AI and Blockchain have had a favourable impact and given a fresh lease of life to mainframes, causing 50% of those European and US organisations surveyed to reveal plans to increase their use over the next couple of years, compared to just 5% who are looking to cut their use of the technology.

Most mainframes are being used for ERP, accounting, HR management and ECM but a quarter of those quizzed by Forrester indicated they are putting mobile sites and applications and a similar number are using them as a home for blockchain and containers.

"Mainframes have long hosted mission-critical business as applications like finance and accounting applications and ERP applications. This remains a constant today with more than 40% of companies with mainframes still running these workloads from the mainframe. However, more than a quarter of firms see the mainframe as a place to run emerging workloads like blockchain and containerized applications. These benefit from integrated security and massive parallelization," stated Forrester.

For hardware specialists in the channel the research should provide thoughts about the various opportunities that mainframe growth will trigger.

“For the channel, there are multiple aspects of the mainframe to consider: there’s the software itself, the hardware, the hosting, the maintenance and update process, and on top of that, the human management of it all," Oliver Presland, vp of global product management at Ensono.

"Each of these can turn into pain points for clients. As baby boomers with mainframe skills retire in droves, it’s this last point – mainframe management – that’s posing a particular problem. For channel partners with the right skills, there’s a real and growing opportunity to step in and address these issues," he added.

Those with mainframe knowledge could find themselves becoming increasingly popular, according to Presland: "As our research shows, mainframe has an expanding role and responsibility in businesses across the world. As long as this remains the case, the channel will be desperately needed to fill the gap – especially while appropriate skills remain scarce.”

Kiran Desai, senior vice president and global head, cloud and infrastructure services, at Wipro, said that there was a move by customers to modernise their mainframes and there were many already running emerging workloads on the technology.

"This research provides two very apt strategies for enterprises that allow them to take full advantage of mainframes – the first being to refactor applications to take advantage of cloud; and the second, to modernize mainframes by adopting DevOps," he said.

"We believe modern mainframes will have a significant role to play in the hybrid future of infrastructure," he added.


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