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Press Release

IDC Survey Reveals Increased Investments in Mainframe Hardware & Software

Nearly one-half of respondents indicated they plan to increase annual spending on mainframe hardware

Mired in a storm of economic uncertainty, plans for increased investments in mainframe hardware and software represent a ray of light for enterprise data center managers who plan to leverage their existing mainframe deployments. According to a new, comprehensive IDC survey of 300 end users, nearly one-half of respondents indicated they plan to increase annual spending on mainframe hardware and software.

IDC's in-depth assessment of the mainframe's role in the multi-platform data center provides insights into the current state of the IBM System z mainframe platform, examines hardware characteristics and capacity, and analyzes the key workloads and use cases that will determine the fate of the mainframe in the future.

The study identifies the emergence of a blended, or hybrid, approach to computing on the IBM System z platform. "Customers are finding that new workloads, including Linux-based and Java-based workloads, can leverage the mainframe's built-in security and high levels of availability, by running them on mainframe specialty processors, such as the IFL, zIIP and zAAP processors," said Jean S. Bozman, research vice president with IDC's Enterprise Platforms Group. "This pattern of adoption is placing software licensing costs on a lower price schedule for these new workloads than if they were running natively on the IBM System z hardware platform. In this way, customers are seeing a blended approach to deploying and maintaining workloads – carrying longtime workloads forward on System z, even as they bring new workloads onto the mainframe."

Changes in the storage environment are also expected. "As more people access these systems, investments in capacity must be made to accommodate increased usage of existing applications," said Laura DuBois, program director, Storage Software. "Additionally, usage growth will be driven by a range of new workloads coming onto the mainframe platform, and from applications that need access to mainframe-hosted databases." The importance of the mainframe and its mission-critical workloads to large businesses not only ensures its longevity, but also drives additional storage investments.

The mainframe is still seen by respondents as a key element of centrally managed corporate data and high value computing workloads by providing them with a layer of highly controllable enterprise management software. Many customers reported that they can plan another wave of investments in the System z platform over the next 2-5 years, given the system's high availability, reliability, and security for mission-critical applications. "Customers continue to collect dividends on their System z investments, which makes future investments much more palatable, even in difficult economic times," said Tim Grieser, program vice president, Enterprise System Management Software. "The positive outlook for the mainframe is also driven by specific initiatives designed to improve the utility and operational efficiency of the platform from the perspectives of highly scalable operations, ability to run new workloads, and total cost of operations (TCO)."

Additional findings from this special study include the following:

  • IBM has revitalized the mainframe by implementing the specialized processor strategy
  • According to survey respondents, "processing power" and "system reliability/uptime" were the top-ranked reasons for hosting applications on the mainframe
  • Favorable pricing was the number one reason for migrating applications off the mainframe.

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