Operating Systems

Keeping a lid on IT costs remains the top priority for IT organizations worldwide. That’s the opinion of nearly 70 percent of participants in BMC Software’s seventh annual survey of mainframe users. This represents a significant increase since the 2011 survey, when 60 percent identified cost containment as a major focus.

As consumers and business people demand anywhere, anytime access to information and applications, IT is increasingly turning to the mainframe to exploit its superior availability, security, centralized data serving, and performance. Ninety percent of the nearly 1,300 survey respondents consider the mainframe a long-term solution, with 50 percent expecting it to attract new workloads.

These new workloads are likely to require additional processing capacity. MIPS aren’t cheap, which means IT must find a way to balance support for increasing demand on the mainframe with the mandate to cut costs.

Although the mainframe is quite cost-effective, it’s under intense scrutiny. As a shared processing environment, it has large, highly visible hardware- and software-related line items on the expense ledger. That has always been true, but there are two big differences now:

• The need to stay competitive in this economy is forcing companies to take drastic cost-cutting measures.
• Top managers recognize that the mainframe houses strategic data and performs business-critical processing. However, they don’t always understand how it generates revenue.

So, how do you reduce mainframe costs while ensuring top performance? This article describes three ways: reducing peak utilization, optimizing application performance, and improving business availability.

Reducing Peak Utilization

This is a good place to start because it can yield significant savings. Some background on the mainframe cost structure helps illustrate the point.

Most System z customers pay for their systems-related software using a workload-based pricing model. The approach is similar to the way people pay their energy bills, and it’s based on a monthly license pricing metric. Users pay for their system and subsystem software based on the peak four-hour rolling average utilization in a particular month.

Customers that can reduce peak utilization can realize significant savings in monthly software charges. Before doing this, however, you need a fundamental understanding of the peak. What makes up the peak? When does the peak occur? And what is running at peak times and on which machines?

Mainframe management software can enhance visibility into your peak usage. The software should show where peaks occur and which workloads contribute to the peak on which machine. You may be running subsystems and system software, batch software, and application software. Everything is counted in the peak.

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