IT Management

Consider this scenario: Your CFO just came back from a software conference and is energized by some of the new, exciting technologies discussed. He would like you to look into moving your applications off the mainframe and onto other platforms that offer promises about how they will save money for the business.

Yet, you know this effort could take years to complete, would be costly, is of questionable business value, and there’s no guarantee you would be able to provide the same level of service to your customers. You’re pretty sure the CFO will agree with you once you explain the full ramifications of migrating from the mainframe. But what’s the best way to make your case?

Here are 10 solid reasons to share with your CFO about why it’s better to stick with the mainframe. 

#1: Mainframe growth is a bargain.  

You’ve already made the investment in a mainframe. So, think about how you can grow by doing more work with the mainframe you already own at practically no extra cost. Arcati Ltd., a company that offers research services for the mainframe community, reports that you can achieve tremendous economies of scale with a mainframe. You can actually reduce costs by doing more work on the mainframe. If you need greater capabilities or growth potential, it’s more cost-effective to add work to the mainframe than move to a new platform that will require significant additional investments. 

Arcati’s research reveals that, if you wanted to increase your mainframe capacity by 20 percent (to do 20 percent more work), it would only increase your costs by 4 percent. That’s five times lower than the cost of the existing work on the mainframe. Everything else you do actually gets cheaper as you grow the system.

By supporting more workloads and more users, the per unit of work costs go down for any given user or workload. To minimize mainframe costs, it’s important to consider moving more work to the mainframe while growing capacity, rather than moving work off the mainframe. 

For example, the IBM specialty engines provide a cost-effective platform for those efforts. You can achieve dramatic savings by moving as much work as possible from general purpose engines to System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) engines. zIIP capacity is about 25 times less expensive than general purpose capacity. By shifting eligible workloads to zIIPs, you free up the more expensive general purpose capacity for new work. As a result, new business applications can be introduced at a low incremental cost without impacting the costs of legacy, general purpose, capacity-based workloads. This gives IT a powerful ability to respond to the business need to grow at a reasonable cost. 

#2: Other platforms cost twice as much per unit of work.

The total cost of the mainframe is much lower than other platforms when you look at the mainframe in terms of real-world mixed workloads. Arcati reports that distributed platforms cost about twice as much as mainframes per unit of work or per user, based on the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). (The cost is made up of people, hardware, software, and various other resources.) 

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