Your CIO probably needs cheering up. Torn between investing in new technology and reducing spending on almost everything else, his or her job isn’t the easiest. Especially since the last months have demonstrated that four years of budget cuts really do have an impact on the reliability of IT. Add to that “provide better support for the business,” “Get us out of this crisis stronger, leaner, and more competitive” and “Why is it we’re the last ones with a tablet strategy?” and you get the point.
No wonder you can put a smile on your CIO’s face if you can deliver some good news. But be prepared, as you will have to defend some investments, too. Here are some ways the mainframe can help your CIO identify cost-cutting innovations:
1. Reduce complexity. Move applications from some of those thousands of distributed servers that have to be upgraded/replaced anyway to Linux on System z. It may sound easy, and it is. Don't let the experiences from seven years ago get in the way. The world has changed, and so has the hardware. IBM’s new mainframe can run hundreds of Linux instances with ease, reducing network components, cabling, firewalls, and physical components. There’s also better management software available than there was back then. Ignore the architects who will be reluctant—times have changed, and your CIO will have a different attitude toward their bias.
2. Demonstrate workload agility. Show that you’re agile enough to cope with any unexpected new workload you can scale up without having to acquire, install, and implement new hardware. Many new initiatives have turned into unpleasant surprises, and unexpected successes have caused major problems—but hardly ever on the mainframe. Explain how you can scale up if that new Internet banking application becomes an instant success. Fat chance your CIO remembers the time it went wrong on another platform.
3. Point out why the mainframe is attractive to young IT workers. Your CIO probably realized in the past year that the mainframe staff is now averaging 56-plus years old and that when they leave, they will take with them an average of more than 30 years of experience and knowledge. But here’s the good news. A lot of young people inside and outside your organization who wouldn’t normally be interested in managing a mainframe suddenly are. The reason is simple: Many of them expect the knowledge they have may not be necessary in the future because a lot of the workload will move to the cloud. Considering its importance to many of the world’s most successful businesses, the mainframe will likely play a prominent role as a key component in delivering cloud services. This has put the mainframe in a new light. So, more and more young people are keen to start on the mainframe, realizing that it's a lot more exciting and interesting than they previously thought. If you make your CIO aware of this trend, it helps address a big concern.
4. Summarize the collective benefits of all the aforementioned. Explain to your CIO that it's possible to reduce the complexity of IT, thereby reducing cost, human errors, and the necessity to expand the data center. At the same time, the IT Infrastructure can be made more agile. When additional workload must be supported, it can be done faster and more efficiently. This is all achieved with a mix of experienced and new staff so the knowledge that’s so important for your company is retained and refreshed. All this will make the data center greener, and your CIO will look good in the eyes of company management and stakeholders.
In times of crisis and cost reductions, CIOs have no other choice than to listen to every bit of advice. My experience is that they will listen more intently and with less preconceived notions than ever before, giving you the chance you’ve been waiting for. Don't defend the mainframe, attack high costs.