Saturday, 19 February 2011

Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2011 user survey

The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2011 has been available for download free from for nearly a month now. Each new Yearbook is always greeted with enthusiasm by mainframers everywhere because it is such a unique source of information. And each year, many people find the results of the user survey especially interesting.

The 100 respondents who completed the survey on the Arcati site did so between 1 November and 3 December 2010. 32% were from Europe and 52% from North America, with 16% from the rest of the world.

44% of the respondents worked in companies with upwards of 10,000 employees worldwide, while 14% of respondents had 0-200 staff, 10% had 201-1000, 14% had 1001 to 5000, and 14% had 5001-10,000 staff. In terms of MIPS, 50% of respondents had fewer than 1000 MIPS installed, 24% fell into the mid-sized category between 1000 and 10,000 MIPS, and 22% were at the high end.

Looking at MIPS growth produced some interesting results. Larger, more mature businesses (above 10,000 MIPS) were almost all experiencing some growth, but predominantly in 0 to 10% per year category. Sites in the 1000-10,000 MIPS range were showing a range of results with some sites suggesting a decline while others predicted growth in excess of 50%. Sites below 1000 MIPS were most likely to be experiencing growth of less than 10%, with the largest percentage (of these three groups) predicting a decline. The mainframe market does appear to be quite fragmented with competitive pressures at the lower end of the mainframe market, and some respondents commented about lack of understanding amongst management about the value of mainframe computing.

With the environment and environmental issues getting so much coverage in the media these days, the survey asked whether IBM’s recent green initiatives on things like power consumption and cooling had made the mainframe more or less attractive. Nearly three-quarters (72% – the same as the previous year) said that IBM’s green initiatives made no difference at all. 17% felt it made the mainframe a little more attractive, and 11% felt it made the mainframe a lot more attractive. Clearly “greenness” isn’t much of a selling point for mainframes.

With so much talk about Cloud Computing, for the first time the survey asked the mainframe population for their opinion. It asked whether respondents currently used their mainframe for cloud computing. Only 2% of respondents said they did. 34% said they didn’t, and the rest weren’t sure. Bearing in mind that it is still early days for a cloud computing initiative, the survey asked whether respondents were planning to adopt cloud computing as a strategy. 22% said they weren’t at present. 8% thought some mainframe applications would be cloud-enabled in the future, and a similar number thought most would be cloud-enabled in the future. However, 4% didn’t see a use for cloud computing. It will be interesting to follow these figures in future surveys.

The survey asked respondents which specialty processors (IFL, zIIP, and zAAP) they had. 6% of sites had all three (down from last year’s value of 12%) and a further 28% of sites had two of the three specialty processors (up from last year’s 12%). More sites had zIIP processors (44%) than any other. 36% had IFL processors, and 24% had zAAP specialty processors. 36% of sites don’t have a specialty processor installed.

It seems that at many sites, mainframes are losing out due to management ignorance. The survey quotes one respondent who said: “We do not expect to have a mainframe within 2-3 years. The CIO sees the mainframe as obsolete and expensive, whether or not either of those is true”. Another respondent complained: “Our architects do not understand mainframes and seem to be mostly knowledgeable about Windows. Project funding is project based and not enterprise based, hence a tendency to prefer perceived cheaper solutions, eg Windows.”

The appearance of the z196 processor had a big impact within the industry. High-profile TV appearances of Watson on Jeopardy keep people familiar with the name IBM. However, there is still a lack of understanding of what a mainframe does and what it can do amongst far too many IT managers and other corporate executives.

Anyway, full details of the responses to many other questions can be found in the user survey section of the Yearbook. It’s well worth a read.

The Yearbook can only be free to mainframers because of the support given by sponsors. This year’s sponsors were CA Technologies, Canam Software, DataKinetics, and Type80 Security Software.

1 comment:

Marcel said...

Good read Trevor. It is funny to sdee that your results match with earlier surveys I have seen. There is however one particular issue I have noticed about the "Cloud acceptance" most surveys talk about. In the past months, I frequently heard;"No Cloud on our Mainframe (yet)". But when asking further, I am finding that many mainframers have already been involved in projects to extract Mainframe data that is somehow used by (or exported to) Cloud applications AND have been confronted with data that somehow hs to be moved back into the production database on the Mainframe. Nothing new here, this already happened daily for all kinds of Distributed applications (on average, we pump about 3 times the size of the production Mainframe database accross the network every day..). But the load on the Mainframe and the amount of work this causes has already had an effect on the already understaffed Mainframe people. And this will only get worse. So without us noticing, we are already slowly feeling the impact of Cloud computing. As you rightly state, this extra workload must somehow be be done by new (younger) people who are not used to Mainframe apps. I am curious to see if people think that the launch of new tools (like this one: and a new ways of training will really help us solving this problem. Curious to see what your readers think....