How the mighty mainframe has morphed into 2008

Here it is 2008 and we have some very interesting facts about the Big Iron chugging away in many corporate businesses. First and foremost, while tons of corporate date resides on a mainframe, it is largely locked there and a huge data integration effort will be required to unlock it.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A survey of Share’s members to be released this month by Share, the largest independent IBM users group found: 

·          At least 70% of the world’s mission-critical business information is stored on mainframes. 

·          Most mainframe data is still locked up, and most integration efforts are still done with hand coded scripting. There are proactive efforts underway to better integrate mainframe data with more distributed data environments, and to be able to deliver this data in real time, meaning within seconds. 

·          Mainframes store and manage much of an organization’s enterprise data. However, most of this data remains inaccessible in these environments. 

·          Most mainframe sites share only a small portion of their data across enterprise systems. A majority, however, do need to make what data is available viewable on a real-time basis. 

·          Close to one out of four respondents’ companies have SOA efforts underway, and another one-third are planning or considering SOA. At least half of these efforts will employ mainframes in a central role. 

·          Most SOA efforts do not yet have an enterprise reach, however, though many companies are preparing SOA to meet real-time requirements. Approximately 40% of companies are deploying or considering event-driven architecture-seen as a real-time adapting of SOA. 

The survey, which gathered responses from 431 IBM systems users, was conducted by Share and Unisphere Research during July and August of 2007.  It showed that many mainframe systems are at the center of efforts to achieve enterprise data integration, as well as to extend applications into service-oriented architectures.

According to Share, IBM been aggressively promoting the System z mainframe as the core engine of SOA. The vendor has made a number of tools available. IBM estimates that the number of transactions running on its mainframes will double over the next few years.

What is keeping the mainframe a viable and even more cost-effective option than other platforms? To a large extent, SOA is making it possible to re-purpose mainframe applications and data that were formerly locked away through a service layer accessible by any and all systems across the network. SOA is enabling mainframe application interoperability. Applications can now be exposed through services to other systems, without even touching the mainframe itself. So what technologies are enabling mainframe SOAs?

·          App server on another platform, accessing the mainframe 35%

·          Application server residing on the mainframe 31%

·          XML infrastructure devices 31%

·          Composite apps on another platform, but accessing mainframe 27%

·          Adapters or connectors on mainframe 15%

·          Enterprise service bus residing on the mainframe 8%

·          Host access tools for generating Web services 8%

·          Pre-built frameworks, such as SOA Software's SOLA 4%

·          Don't know/unsure 27%

·          Other 4% 

Overall, IBM states, the mainframe market grew eight percent in 2006, and System z sales keep growing from year to year, thanks to what it calls increasingly attractive pricing and more powerful features. Most current mainframe users will continue to build out the platform, and a sizable segment of mainframe database users intend to increase the amount of data and applications running within this environment, the survey stated. And what mission mission-critical applications are running on mainframes?

·          Accounting/finance 59%

·          IT/system monitoring 37%

·          HR and payroll 35%

·          Data warehouse/data marts 27%

·          Client/server host environments 25%

·          Business-to-business e-commerce/EDI 25%

·          ERM/ERP system (BPCS, JDE, SAP, etc.) 22%

·          Web servers/intranets 18%

·          Business-to-consumer e-commerce 16%

·          Supply chain management/distribution 16%

·          Business intelligence/analytics 14%

·          CRM/Marketing/sales force automation 14%

·          Other 16% 

While  23% of survey respondents said they intend to increase mainframe usage, 19% will reduce their applications and data in this environment, or move off the mainframe altogether. What are mainframe database and application plans?

·          Will increase data and applications in this environment 23%

·          No major changes or migrations planned 14%

·          Will reduce data and applications in this environment 13%

·          Will migrate entirely off this environment 6%

·          We don't run a mainframe 23%

Where do most survey respondents’ companies send mainframe data when moving it to other platforms or databases? 

·          Oracle 50%

·          DB2 UDB for Linux, Windows, or Unix 36%

·          SQL Server 36%

·          MySQL 5%

·          Sybase 5%

What non-mainframe applications consume mainframe-based data to support their corporate operations?·          Enterprise and traditional reporting 53%

·          Business intelligence/analytics 45%

·          Web servers/intranets 40%

·          Client/server host environments 38%

·          Accounting/finance 36%

·          Data marts 34%

·          HR and payroll 32%

·          ERM/ERP system 15%

·          CRM/sales force automation 19%

·          Business-to-business e-commerce/EDI 19%

·          Business-to-consumer e-commerce 23%

·          Supply chain management/ distribution 15%

·          Messaging 21%

·          Other databases directly through   change data capture propagation 21%

·           Data is not shared 6% 

All numbers are attributed to the Share report: "The New Mainframe, Data integration and service oriented architecture, Big Iron style." 

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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