Mainframe Executive recently visited with Chris O’Malley, executive vice president and general manager for CA’s Mainframe Business Unit. A 23-year veteran of the IT industry, he is responsible for defining and executing CA’s mainframe strategy. We asked him about CA’s new mainframe initiatives, and how they will impact mainframe sites and the development of System z’s next-generation workforce.
Mainframe Executive: There has been a lot of talk recently about a “mainframe resurgence.” Have you seen this in your business?
Chris O’Malley: Yes, we have. Two years ago, everyone was talking about a mainframe “renaissance.” Now it’s being called a “revival,” and the scale of this revival is shocking a lot of people.
ME: To what do you attribute this mainframe revival?
O’Malley: There are two things at play. First, there has been movement away from the model of distributed processing that began in the ’80s, when many in the industry were declaring the mainframe “dead.” Today, we see many companies taking a critical look at their new and existing workloads, and asking hard business questions to determine the best platform. These companies are recognizing they need excellent Quality of Service [QoS] to manage their mission-critical workloads, and the mainframe uniquely fulfills this business requirement. Second, there’s a shifting of dynamics with the introduction of the System z10. Both IBM and CA have done an excellent job with the price/performance ratio, and many companies that have gone through a cost per transaction analysis have determined that the z10 can process their transactions at half the cost of a distributed environment.
ME: Is this generating new mainframe business from companies that never had a mainframe before?
O’Malley: With an economic recession, companies are looking at a host of scenarios when it comes to upgrading their operations. This includes companies with traditionally distributed computing environments that never before had a mainframe in their operations. One example is a Midwest insurance company with a distributed computing environment that decided to “shop around” from a business perspective before pursuing their next upgrade. The company was running SAP in a distributed computing environment and executive management saw a substantial savings if the company made a decision to migrate to a z10 with z/OS and Linux on System z. They also saw they would get the benefit of superior QoS in security, reliability, and scalability.
ME: One challenge has been that as mainframe sales have risen, the number of skilled persons able to support mainframes is declining with the graying and retirement of the mainframe workforce. With the mainframe platform comprising 60 percent of CA’s business, what is CA doing about the problem?
O’Malley: CA has responded with a very powerful strategic initiative called Mainframe 2.0. This is the largest mainframe initiative we’ve ever done, both in scale and investment. Mainframe 2.0 addresses the mainframe revival that’s occurring just as a large percentage of customers’ most experienced mainframe professionals are approaching retirement. Mainframe 2.0 helps IT organizations overcome such resource shortfalls by simplifying mainframe ownership, streamlining the implementation and maintenance of essential mainframe management tools, and ensuring that the next generation of IT professionals can leverage their existing skillsets to effectively manage mainframe environments. This work has been done across the board, but a high concentration of it has been on the user interface to mainframe software. We’ve focused on transforming this interface for the next generation, which are today’s 20-somethings who are graduating from college and joining the corporate IT workforce.
ME: What other enhancements are you planning to simplify System z management software?