New mainframe uses: Blockchain, containerized apps

Blockchain and containerized microservices can benefit from the mainframe’s integrated security and massive parallelization capabilities.

mainframe servers in the cloud
Thinkstock

News flash: Mainframes still aren't dead.

On the contrary, mainframe use is increasing, and not to run COBOL, either. Mainframes are being eyed for modern technologies including blockchain and containers.

A survey of 153 IT decision makers found that 50% of organizations will continue with the mainframe and increase its use over the next two years, while just 5% plan to decrease or remove mainframe activity. The survey was conducted by Forrester Research and commissioned by Ensono, a hybrid IT services provider, and Wipro Limited, a global IT consulting services company.

That kind of commitment to the mainframe is a bit of a surprise, given the trend to reduce or eliminate the on-premises data center footprint and move to the cloud. However, enterprises are now taking a hybrid approach to their infrastructure, migrating some applications to the cloud while keeping the most business-critical applications on-premises and on mainframes.

Forrester's research found mainframes continue to be considered a critical piece of infrastructure for the modern business – and not solely to run old technologies. Of course, traditional enterprise applications and workloads remain firmly on the mainframe, with 48% of ERP apps, 45% of finance and accounting apps, 44% of HR management apps, and 43% of ECM apps staying on mainframes.

But that's not all. Among survey respondents, 25% said that mobile sites and applications were being put into the mainframe, and 27% said they're running new blockchain initiatives and containerized applications. Blockchain and containerized applications benefit from the integrated security and massive parallelization inherent in a mainframe, Forrester said in its report.

"We believe this research challenges popular opinion that mainframe is for legacy," said Brian Klingbeil, executive vice president of technology and strategy at Ensono, in a statement. "Mainframe modernization is giving enterprises not only the ability to continue to run their legacy applications, but also allows them to embrace new technologies such as containerized microservices, blockchain and mobile applications."

Wipro's Kiran Desai, senior vice president and global head of cloud and infrastructure services, added that enterprises should adopt two strategies to take full advantage of mainframes. The first is to refactor applications to take advantage of cloud, while the second is to adopt DevOps to modernize mainframes.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Related:
Take IDG’s 2020 IT Salary Survey: You’ll provide important data and have a chance to win $500.