IT Professionals Foresee Long-Term Viability of Mainframe
December 05, 2017

Pete Goldin

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Even as many organizations continue to adopt multi-cloud technologies as part of their dramatic transformation, the mainframe remains a relevant and growing data center hub for many, according to BMC's 12th annual Mainframe Research Report.

The survey highlights that organizations are committed to the mainframe, as respondents are modernizing their operations and technologies, have a more positive attitude toward the mainframe, and are changing their workforce to ensure the right staffing and skills are on board.

"Results from the 2017 BMC Mainframe Research Report provide a good indicator on the future health and viability of the mainframe," said Bill Miller, President of ZSolutions at BMC. "The survey shatters a prevailing variety of myths and highlights the strategic importance of the mainframe. Overwhelmingly, it is clear that the mainframe is a critical core IT platform that is the backbone of digital business.”

With 91% of survey respondents predicting that mainframe workloads will continue to grow, it’s clear that they view the mainframe as a viable, long-term platform.

While many priorities remained unchanged from last year’s survey, staffing and skills leaped forward as a key priority as respondents modernize their mainframe environment. This year, 44% of respondents indicate that staffing and skills are key challenges due to the changing workforce, and 36% of respondents indicate this is a priority in the coming year.

Modernizing Operations

Dispelling the myth that the mainframe is fully optimized and in maintenance mode, the survey results indicate that organizations are modernizing their operations.

With 66% of respondents indicating that they will focus on planned outages to increase availability, the survey dispels the myth that organizations have fully optimized their mainframes. The top applications running on the mainframe are transactional systems, big data, and analytics, and organizations continue to focus on increasing availability.

Evolving Attitudes, Changing Workforce

Attitudes about the mainframe also continue to evolve. Contrary to the perception that executives want to replace mainframes, many recognize that mainframes are a critical core IT platform. In this year’s results, 47% of executives indicate they will grow and attract new workloads.

The survey dispels several myths about the mainframe workforce, including the perception that mainframe professionals are all older in age, while younger IT professionals are pessimistic about the mainframe industry’s prospects.

■ 53% of respondents are under the age of 50, and many of these respondents have a positive view of the mainframe.

■ 69% of those in the mid-career group (ages 30 to 49 with one to ten years of experience), see growth in their mainframe workloads and view the mainframe as having a strong position of growth in the industry overall.

■ Millennials under the age of 30 are very enthusiastic about the future of the mainframe.

"Mainframe applications and databases provide critical business services as organizations undergo modernization and digital transformation," said Tim Grieser, Research VP, Enterprise System Management Software, IDC.

Methodology: 1,069 respondents were surveyed online from May 16 to June 4, 2017. The survey was sent worldwide and was offered in six languages, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Portuguese. Sixty-two percent of the respondents were technical professionals and managers, 34% were executives, and 4% were other.

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