In this and in my coming three blogs, we are going to look at some of the main strategic themes that are currently discussed in companies working with Mainframes. We will among others address the issues of:
- Mainframe modernization and offload,
- Mainframe outsourcing, and
- Technology upgrade
The present blog will set the scene for the conversation.
When is Mainframe the best solution
Even if there are many different views on this subject, it is generally agreed that Mainframe is still the best infrastructure solution for companies that have at the core of their business the need for large amounts of transactions, where the data handling is mainly centralized and where reliability and security are of vital importance.
This is typically the case for banks and financial institutions, insurance companies, government organizations, energy, transportation and logistics companies, large manufacturers, and large retailers.
However, there is no doubt that many strategic Mainframe debates are being held among key decision makers. Several different factors are causing this focus:
- Skills shortage and retiring staff
- Vendor lock-in / lack of flexibility
- Operating cost and complex charging models from vendors
Are we witnessing a Mainframe revival?
What we know for certain is that 10-20 years ago everyone believed that Mainframes were going to be a thing of the past. Big consultancy companies advocated for this in parallel to the emergence and rapid diffusion of distributed solutions – and more recently of cloud-based solutions. Based on this assumption, fewer people have been trained to program and operate Mainframes. In the meantime, many of the older Mainframe experts have exited or are exiting the workforce.
The sector is now experiencing what can be called a revival, and efforts are made from many parts including, of course, IBM, to secure the training of new generations of programmers and technicians with Mainframe skills. However, some companies suffer the lack of experienced personnel.
Flexibility has by many been seen as one of the reasons why it was necessary to move away from the Mainframe even if the technological evolution has rendered Mainframes very flexible as well.
Summing up the traditional advantages of the Mainframe and the new ones deriving from its adaptation to the current business needs, in many cases the Mainframe technology remains the best option for data-intensive companies. For this reason, many large companies have decided to hold on to the Mainframe.
The main considerations to make
During the decision process regarding the future of one’s own IT Infrastructure, different options need to be evaluated:
- Should some of the workload be allocated differently and moved away from the Mainframe?
- Should the Mainframe be kept on-site, or should it be outsourced?
- Should the Company invest in a technology upgrade? and, of course,
- How can we do it cheaper?
In my next blog we will look closer at the decision to modernize or offload the Mainframe and at some of the strategic considerations to make when moving in that direction.
SMT Data has 30 years of experience working with customers with own or outsourced Mainframe. We will be glad to talk to you if we can support you in any of your Mainframe related considerations and tasks.
by Patrizia Venturelli Christensen, COO