IT Management

z/Vendor Watch: Big Is Beautiful

It’s that time of year again when Arcati conducts its annual survey to find out what’s really going on in the System z user base.

We based our research on 100 responses from users across the board, many—as might be expected—in the financial services sector but with representation from all industry sectors and geographical areas. Overall, the message remains consistent with that of past years: Big is beautiful. Those organizations with more than 10,000 MIPS installed continue to experience the healthiest growth—all reported that their mainframe capacity continued to grow and nearly 30 percent were growing at between 26 and 50 percent per annum. Compare that with those installations in the 500 to 10,000 MIPS category: Here only 10 percent noted growth above 25 percent and more than 15 percent said their MIPS growth was static or declining. Below 500 MIPS, the zero growth figure creeps up to nearly 30 percent.

So, the mainframe still belongs to the big players, and it’s in the lower reaches that IBM and the ISVs have their work cut out for them. But the System z isn’t just being used to support legacy applications and, although legacy MIPS remain relatively expensive, IBM’s strategy of substantially reducing costs for new workloads is clearly paying off. Forty-one percent (up from 34 percent last year) said they are running Java-based apps on the mainframe, and 31 percent (up from 23 percent last time) are running Linux workloads. When it comes to the core subsystems, 68 percent said they’re Web-enabling their CICS applications and 62 percent said the same for DB2; though the real workhorse, IMS, lags behind at just 23 percent.

Once again it’s the biggest sites that see a positive future for the mainframe, with 65 percent predicting integration with other platforms. Below 10,000 MIPS, less than half the respondents expect to integrate and approximately one in 10 foresee migration for legacy apps.

At the end of the day, most respondents believe the mainframe to be a very cost-effective platform. However, when asked to comment on their individual situation, a number cited unreasonable legacy software costs as a major source of irritation. This was particularly evident at the lower end of the market where IBM has placed enormous pressure on companies such as Platform Solutions and Fundamental Software, whose mission has been to provide more cost-effective, low-end MIPS. A number also cited the perennial problem of the graying workforce, with few new recruits with z/OS expertise coming along.

CA Sends in the Experts

Talking of diminishing mainframe skills, this seems to be the motivation behind CA’s latest initiative, a series of services targeted at companies that lack the expertise to make the most of their mainframe investments. The broad- ranging services include performance management, security, tape utilization and compliance, resource management, database performance, and automated storage optimization. CA is offering to send in a team of handpicked architects (free of charge, in some cases) who can help customers examine their existing mainframe software portfolio and align it with business requirements. CA also is moving toward MSU-based pricing, with some impressive savings promised.

ASG Enhances Application Portfolio Management Offering

ASG is shipping version 7 of ASG-becubic, the company’s application portfolio manager. The product allows users to take a high-level view of their applications inventory and related artifacts, and supports enterprisewide impact analysis as well as propagation and root-cause analysis. This release is designed to enable IT managers to define rules to represent multiple views of apps and relate artifacts—including programs and JCL—to one or more applications. This could allow decision-makers to determine which apps to invest in and which ones to outsource, says ASG.

Software AG Buys Jacada

Software AG has acquired the application modernization business of Jacada for $26 million in a cash transaction. The move is set to considerably strengthen SAG’s presence and range of offerings in the SOA marketplace. Among other things, it will gain more than 200 enterprise customers, but that’s only half the story. Apparently, Software AG also is keen to tap into Jacada’s supply of mainframe engineers who understand legacy modernization—a scarce resource indeed—and worth $26 million of anyone’s money! Z