Syncsort, the global leader in Big Iron to Big Data software, today announced the findings from its annual “State of the Mainframe” report. Results revealed an increased focus on traditional data infrastructure optimization to control costs and help fund strategic organizational projects like AI, machine learning and predictive analytics in addition to widespread concern about meeting security and compliance requirements.

The study, which polled over 220 respondents from a wide range of IT disciplines including executives, architects, system programmers, application analysts, database administrators, operations managers and security professionals, identified five trends that reflect the vital role mainframe data plays in supporting business and operational intelligence initiatives:

Mainframe infrastructure optimization enables new strategic projects. The mainframe remains strategic to businesses, with 57% of respondents stating it will continue to be the main hub for business-critical applications this year, and where 43% will run revenue-generating services. Given the mainframe’s key role in so many organizations, cost control is a priority: 51% said they planned to cut IT costs by optimizing mainframe resources.

Cost reduction, security and compliance continue to be top challenges. Reducing general processor CPU usage and related costs (70%), meeting security and compliance requirements (63%) and meeting SLAs (55%) again ranked as the top three challenges organizations face in 2018. To improve performance and save money, 56% of respondents are leveraging their investment in zIIP engines while 44% are increasing their DB2 performance. 

Integrating mainframe data with modern analytics tools enables enterprise-wide data views. 44% of respondents chose integrating mainframe data with modern analytics tools as a top organizational priority, and 23% said they already use Big Data tools (like Splunk and Hadoop) to monitor mainframe and other enterprise data together in a single dashboard.

System Management Facilities (SMF) and z/OS log data will play an increased role in addressing security and compliance mandates. 54% of respondents ranked monitoring SMF and log file data as most important for security on the mainframe, followed closely by having an audit trail of SMF data (53%) and regularly auditing and reviewing incident response (52%).

Mainframe data analysis and movement across platforms is a priority. Mainframe organizations continue to find tracking their data a challenge: 53% of organizations say they lack full visibility into their data movement, compared with 61% last year. While the downward trend is encouraging, this remains an area of risk that must be addressed to ensure security and compliance initiatives are met.

The study also showed that mainframe environments remain a place of robust investment. In fact, 32% of respondents report increased spending for developing new mainframe applications compared with just 24% last year, and another 32% reported increased investment in mainframe data analytics.

“It’s clear that traditional data environments, including mainframe and IBM i, remain central to large enterprises’ business,” said David Hodgson, Chief Product Officer, Syncsort. “Our annual State of the Mainframe research confirms what we are seeing across our more than 7,000 customers worldwide: while many are turning to Big Data analytics platforms to meet compliance and security requirements, they continue to successfully use the mainframe and IBM i to run revenue-generating services, requiring them to optimize their data infrastructure to improve performance and control costs.”

Click here to download the full State of the 2018 State of the Mainframe report.