Jul 9 ’09

IT Management: New Enterprise Application Workloads on the Mainframe Continue to Grow

by Susan Eustis in Mainframe Executive

The quantity of new enterprise application workloads being placed on the mainframe is growing, and the new IBM System z10 is playing a key role. In the choice between using a mainframe or distributed servers, the mainframe has many advantages, especially in today’s tough economy where cost-savings are critical.

IT directors report moving new workloads onto System z10 due to the lower hardware and software costs, lower energy costs, better security, better risk management, and better governance. Interviews with enterprise IT directors and CFO IT managers reveal renewed interest in moving new workload onto the IBM System z10 mainframe and away from distributed servers due to the substantial cost-savings. For example, annual energy usage is generally reduced by 80 percent, and energy becomes available for other uses. Use of the System z10 for workload means total floor space is reduced by 85 percent compared to the space needed to house equivalent processing power for a distributed solution. Software costs are reduced by 36 percent because the software runs on fewer processors, further spurring the adoption of new workload on the mainframe. Mainframe processors also typically operate at 85 percent utilization while distributed processors run at 15 to 20 percent.

Mainframe labor costs are typically reduced by 54 percent over large, distributed server farms due to the small number of staff needed to operate and manage mainframe computing environments. While large distributed computing environments require a significant amount of manpower to monitor and manage, mainframe environments require fewer technicians, thereby keeping labor costs low.

In the past, mainframes were difficult to fully align with the objectives of the business. Those days are long gone! Today, the mainframe is enjoying significant renewed interest not only due to the lower total cost of operation—which is significant—but also the increased agility companies can achieve through various software solutions that aid in fully leveraging the mainframe’s power.

Software solutions from IBM and other vendors are playing a key role in making the mainframe the preferred choice for continued efficiency and new workloads. The availability of management solutions provides the lifeline for complicated e-businesses, supporting new workload on the mainframe. These solutions constantly gather information on hardware, software, and network devices and, in many cases, rectify problems before they actually occur.

Complex and time-consuming tasks have become automated. Automated processes are more efficient than manual processes, provided they’re reliable. Downtime costs vary by industry and run from $50,000 to $1 million per minute. A reliable business system foundation provides an organization with the ability to rely on automated processes to lower costs and increase productivity.

Dashboards can be used to look up information from federated databases, eliminating duplicate sign-on requirements and automating search criteria for information retrieval. By making system cross-referencing and identification confirmation more efficient, dashboards have greatly contributed to the movement of new workloads onto the mainframe by creating new ways to efficiently access information stored in multiple places. It also has improved decision- making.

Mainframe systems support collaboration by working to create a single view of related information across multiple platforms. This has been a primary focus for IBM data management initiatives.

Existing distributed systems infrastructure hinders efficiency and increases costs, while the mainframe is able to increase efficiency, lower costs, and deliver its legendary reliability at the same time. Is it any wonder why companies are placing workloads on the mainframe vs. distributed systems?