What are the key priorities for more than 1,700 global mainframe users? Most, as might be expected, are wrestling with increasing demands for processing capacity while simultaneously trying to reduce overall IT costs. BMC Software’s Fifth Annual Worldwide Survey of Mainframe Users shows that mainframes continue to be an essential element of respondents’ data centers as the trusted platform for critical business transaction processing. However, mainframes are increasingly surrounded by and integrated with a variety of UNIX, Linux, and Windows-based systems, delivering key elements of complex, multi-tiered applications. These trends challenge the mainframe operations teams to continue to deliver outstanding performance and availability while meeting the cost objectives the business demands.

This article examines the highlights of this survey and provides a discussion of specific ideas to enable IT operations staff to better manage their mainframes while meeting cost optimization objectives and leveraging the mainframe in increasingly consolidated, virtualized data centers.

Survey Highlights

Respondents, more than half of whose companies have revenues in excess of $1 billion, indicated that demands on the mainframe will grow (especially among larger customers) and the platform will continue to attract new workloads. But mainframe users also report some applications migrating to other platforms that better fit their needs as well as back to the mainframe.  All of this ongoing portfolio management is occurring while respondents strive to corral server sprawl and drive more centralization and control into their data center operations.

In a still-difficult business environment, reducing the cost of IT was, predictably, the top priority of mainframe customers (cited by 65 percent of respondents), followed by disaster recovery (34 percent). Application modernization and business alignment rounded out the top four priorities, while reducing MIPS growth requirements and reducing outages were second- and third-ranked priorities for larger customers (see Figure 1).


Reflecting the trend of recent years, overall MIPS deployed continues to grow at a steady pace. A key strategy in reducing and managing the growth rate of general-purpose MIPS has been the exploitation of specialty engines. More than 50 percent of respondents have System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) engines installed, with larger installations approaching close to 85 percent penetration. More than 60 percent of respondents with specialty engines report having installed one or more zIIP engines in the past year, while 30 percent of all respondents have plans to add engines in the next 24 months.

Driven by requirements for cost optimization and greater efficiency, virtualization (cited by 20 percent of respondents) and consolidation (cited by 15 percent) were the “critically important” initiatives for data center architectures. Virtualization was either “important” or “extremely important” for 70 percent of respondents, with consolidation being important or extremely important for 61 percent. The System z was prominently favored for server consolidation (40 percent) and server virtualization (34 percent).

Respondents who cited application modernization as a priority are about twice as likely to have the goal of either extending the life of legacy code through Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web services, or increasing the flexibility and agility of core applications, as opposed to re-hosting projects. This also indicates a continued investment and commitment to the mainframe. To successfully continue to leverage the mainframe (including z/OS, Linux on System z, and upcoming zBX-hosted operating systems) while minimizing costs, IT organizations indicated a need for unified toolsets. Respondents showed the most interest in tools for monitoring and event automation, system and task automation, workload and batch management, storage administration, and capacity management.

Driving Growth Affordably

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