Mainframe Blog

Modernizing the Mainframe for a Bright Future

Bill Miller
by Bill Miller

As organizations double down on digital transformation, the mainframe has emerged as an important tool in the eyes of technology professionals and company leaders. The newly released BMC Annual Mainframe Survey found that these professionals value the strengths of the mainframe platform and in fact, have the highest confidence levels in 13 years. The research is the largest of its kind, compiling data from over 1,100 respondents from 35 countries and representing every generation in the workforce. Tune in and listen to the IBM Systems Magazine on-demand webinar hosted by John McKenny, VP of Strategy and Alan Warhurst, Lead Product Manager to hear more about how organizations think about the mainframe as an integral part of their IT enterprise.

In addition to other relevant mainframe questions, the survey asked respondents:

  • How they are modernizing their environments
  • What is the impact of new technologies and techniques
  • How the workforce is changing

The Mainframe is Key to Your Digital Transformation

The survey results reflect what I hear in my conversations with business leaders across the globe as we discuss their IT infrastructure and business challenges. They see a shift underway, with the inherent strengths of the platform – reliability, security, availability – increasingly called upon to support modernization and transformation. A solid 93% of the respondents believe in the long-term viability of the platform and its ability to manage the increasing expectations and the relentless pace of digital business.

The Mainframe is the Digital Backbone

Respondents say that mainframe activity levels are increasing in five key categories:

  • Transaction volumes
  • Data volumes
  • Volatility/unpredictability of workload
  • Speed of application changes
  • Number of databases

Over half of the respondents have over 50% of their data on a mainframe, and this is growing at an even faster rate in large shops (over 10K MIPS). 70% of larger operations have a positive outlook for MIPS growth and see the mainframe as the “digital backbone” of their business. It has tremendous value for them as a powerful back-end data server to manage the volumes, volatility, and rate of change.

Exhibit 1

Changes in Last 12 Months
Levels increasing across five key categories

Modernizing the Mainframe with Automation and Agile Practices

Organizations of all sizes have embraced automation and agile practices to modernize and optimize their mainframe environments with the goal of ultimately improving the quality of service and user experience. 82% of survey respondents use Java on the mainframe, and 48% have deployed Agile/DevOps practices to help manage rapidly changing digital environments. Companies are modernizing their mainframes to interact with the wider enterprise. With security always top of mind, 33% of respondents secure their data by deploying the latest encryption techniques such as pervasive encryption on the Z14. To me, this ability to adapt to the latest technologies is another firm indication that the mainframe is here to stay, and that it can help organizations to succeed with their digital transformations.

Staffing Up the Modern Mainframe Organization

We all know people are key to any transformation, and the new research clearly shows companies have been onboarding talent to manage these evolving mainframe technologies. The data reflects a changing demographic, with 72% of respondents being Gen-Z, Millennials or Gen-X, and 63% under the age of 50, a 10-point increase from last year. The next generation of talented, motivated mainframe professionals see this as an opportunity to step in and innovate, raise their visibility, and expand their careers. The strong appearance of this younger demographic in the results is another indication of a bright future for the mainframe.

Thank You, Mainframe Survey Respondents

I want to emphasize the strong, positive response that comes out of this survey and take this opportunity to thank all our respondents for sharing their insights. Mobile applications and digital business have effectively rewritten the ways that companies operate, and the 2018 BMC Mainframe Survey shows that the mainframe has a place in helping those companies run and reinvent their businesses. The mainframe is uniquely capable of scaling to handle ever-increasing transaction volumes efficiently and securely.

To meet the growing demands of digital business many organizations are modernizing their mainframe infrastructures and operations with BMC’s help. With BMC’s mainframe solutions our clients improve the performance, availability, and security of their apps, their systems, and their data while optimizing costs and improving the agility and efficiency of their organization.

Download the 2018 BMC Mainframe Survey – Mainframe’s Bright Future eBook today!

2018 BMC Mainframe Survey

The 13th Annual BMC Mainframe Survey is a key indicator of the future health and viability of the mainframe. See how mainframe attitudes, technologies, and practices are evolving in the digital era.
Download Now ›

These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent BMC's position, strategies, or opinion.

About the author

Bill Miller

Bill Miller

Bill Miller is President of BMC’s ZSolutions business, which produces and sells an industry-leading suite of mainframe solutions including Cost Analyzer, Subsystem Optimizer and Intelligent Capping products for zEnterprise, as well as Data Management for both DB2 and IMS, and MainView.

Previously, Bill was COO at BindView Development, and he spent 21 years at IBM. Bill is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.