Monday, 23 January 2012

More data stored off mainframes – user survey finding

The Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2012 is now available for download from – and it’s FREE. 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. And this year, for the very first time, survey respondents indicated that, at their sites, more data was stored off mainframes than on.

This surprising result came from the 100 respondents who completed the survey on the Arcati Web site   between 1 November and 2 December 2011. 40% were from Europe and 50% from North America, with 10% from the rest of the world.

46% of the respondents worked in companies with upwards of 10,000 employees worldwide, while 10% of respondents had 0-200 staff, 6% had 201-1000, 28% had 1001 to 5000, and 10% had 5001-10,000 staff. In terms of MIPS, 34% of respondents had fewer than 1000 MIPS installed, 40% fell into the mid-sized category between 1000 and 10,000 MIPS, and 26% 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 of up to 50%. Sites below 1000 MIPS were experiencing a more complex future, with most expecting a small growth, but almost as many expecting no growth or negative growth (a business-speak euphemism for 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.

It was interesting to see that 6% of respondents had the zEnterprise z114s, with 19% having the z196s models installed. I expect that future surveys we’ll ask how sites are making use of the extra features on these models. Previous surveys have shown that there is a willingness amongst mainframes (especially larger ones) to purchase new models as they become available. In order to benefit from the new features

The big talking point during 2011 was cloud computing and whether mainframers really have been doing it since the 1960s and the impact of offering software (and anything else) as a service. The survey asked whether respondents currently used their mainframe for cloud computing. Just 12% (up from last year’s 2%) of respondents said they did. 34% said they didn’t, and the rest weren’t sure. It’s still early days for a cloud computing initiative to move off the PowerPoint slides and into the business environment, so the survey asked whether respondents were planning to adopt cloud computing as a strategy. 40% said they weren’t at present. Just 18% thought some mainframe applications would be cloud-enabled in the future. It will be interesting to follow these figures in future surveys.

The survey asked respondents which specialty processors (IFL, zIIP, and zAAP) they had. 16% of sites had all three (up from last year’s value of 6%) and a further 20% of sites had two of the three specialty processors (down from last year’s 28%). More sites had zIIP processors (48%) than any other. 36% had IFL processors, and 30% had zAAP specialty processors. 28% of sites don’t have a specialty processor installed.

The survey inquired about what proportion of enterprise data resides on the mainframe and what on other platforms. This produced, for the first year ever, the surprising result that more than half of the respondents use other platforms to manage the lion’s share of their corporate data. 44 percent of sites surveyed have more data on their mainframes, whereas 56 percent of the sites surveyed have more data stored on other platforms. Unfortunately, the survey was unable to drill down to find out why, but we can speculate that it may simply be the growth of data associated with the non-mainframe side of the business. It could be a result of the quantity of e-mails that organizations store for their staff. It could be that non-mainframe data is less well managed and ‘spreads’ into larger data sizes. Perhaps non-mainframe databases are less space efficient. Or maybe, people just create and save Excel spreadsheets and Word documents on Windows servers, where they wouldn’t keep equivalent files on mainframes. Or perhaps sites move their mainframe archive data off the mainframe, but still have it available online on, for example, a Linux distributed system. I’d be interested to hear yiour views on this.

The comments in the survey identified management ignorance of the power and benefits of using a mainframe. This is now a perennial reason given for the decline in mainframe computing within organizations. But cost was also highlighted as a factor mitigating against the successful growth of mainframe computing. One respondent suggested, “software costs are sinking the mainframe”.

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, Serena Software, Software AG, Software Diversified Services (SDS), Type80 Security Software, and William Data Systems.

1 comment:

Focus Groups said...

Indicates that still Mainframes rule the market when it comes to storing data.