Applications Making a Big Impact on the Mainframe
December 10, 2013
Dennis O'Flynn
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Compuware Corporation recently commissioned a *global CIO survey on the impact of new technologies and trends on the mainframe application environment. The survey found mobile technology is increasing complexity, usage and costs of mainframe applications. As a result, companies are finding it more difficult to isolate and fix problems.

Nearly 90 percent of CIOs said they are using outdated transaction monitoring practices that don't provide visibility into how distributed and mainframe applications interact. In addition, IT staff are spending needless time in war rooms trying to resolve complex application issues they can't see, increasing the likelihood that if problems persist, brand reputations — and bottom lines — suffer.

The findings showed that more than half of customer-facing and business-critical applications are dependent on the mainframe. Ensuring these applications work smoothly and efficiently is an extremely complex task, which is a challenge for many organizations because of the siloed nature of the IT environment.

Distributed developers and mainframe developers often do not interact on projects let alone speak the same language. In fact, 68 percent of CIOs felt distributed application developers are unaware of the impact they have on the mainframe environment. This is cause for concern as a poorly optimized application interacting with the mainframe will drive up MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) costs unnecessarily. Those costs could be drastically reduced if developers had visibility into how their code was impacting the mainframe.

The Mainframe in the New Hyper-Distributed World: New Workloads, New Challenges

Distributed applications are increasing mainframe usage, as well as increasing complexity and risk into the mainframe environment, and making it more difficult to manage. Developers unfamiliar with the mainframe are often not optimizing code, causing inefficiencies to creep through. As a result, the computer power needed to deliver applications, or MIPS consumption, is escalating.

In addition, IT teams are under more pressure to deliver high-performing applications, as slow-downs or failures directly impact revenue, brand and productivity.

The survey revealed many issues, including the following:

- Over half (55 percent) of enterprise applications call upon the mainframe to complete transactions, yet the majority of distributed application developers today have limited understanding of the mainframe. Many CIOs believe this lack of knowledge is leading to inefficient mainframe access.

- 89 percent of CIOs said mainframe workloads are increasing and becoming more varied. According to their estimates, distributed applications have produced a 44 percent increase in workload over the past five years.

- 87 percent of CIOs believe the complexity of enterprise applications is creating new risks in relation to mainframe application performance.

- 91 percent said new customer-facing applications are accessing the mainframe. Consequently, performance expectations have increased, leading to mounting concerns about lost revenues (48 percent), loss of employee productivity (47 percent) and brand/reputation damage (43 percent).

Fighting New Problems with Old Tools

Companies are still using outdated methods to monitor performance and are often unaware there is a problem until it starts impacting users. Yet added complexity is making it increasingly difficult to find and isolate the cause of issues, making problem resolution slower, despite added pressure from the business for technology to perform well.

The survey findings point to several challenges IT organizations are facing and how they are impacting the business:

- 74 percent of CIOs think the added complexity of applications working across distributed and mainframe environments is making problem resolution take longer.

- 75 percent of CIOs are being pressured to reduce mean time to resolution on application performance problems.

- 89 percent of companies are still relying on aggregate data or averages to monitor performance of their IT.

- 79 percent have no visibility of the actual end-user experience and 63 percent of companies are often unaware of performance problems until calls start coming in to the help desk.

- 79 percent of CIOs say there is a war room situation in their organization on a monthly basis; more than half (52 percent) having one at least once a week; and nine percent daily. On average, nine people are involved in these war rooms.


The mainframe is working harder than ever before, due to the increasing number of distributed and mobile applications calling upon it. Traditional approaches to performance management are no longer effective. If IT is constantly tied up trying to solve problems, it has a ripple effect across the business, delaying projects and holding back innovation. Over time this makes it harder for businesses to compete and companies lose their competitive edge.

Companies must adopt a more proactive approach to identifying and rectifying performance issues before they turn into issues for end users. In so doing, customers will be happier and teams can focus on revenue-driving projects.

Click on the infographic below for a larger version.

*Commissioned by Compuware and conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne, the survey was administered to 350 CIOs at large companies covering a cross-section of vertical markets in Australia, Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US.

ABOUT Dennis O’Flynn

Dennis O’Flynn is the Director of Product Management for Compuware’s Mainframe Solutions Business Unit. He has more than 29 years of IT experience with roles in development, architecture, strategic planning, and product management. These roles have spanned multiple platforms including mobile, embedded, distributed and mainframe. O'Flynn is passionate about incorporating IT with business objectives to improve the customer experience.

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For more information, read the survey white paper

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