I enjoyed a recent article by Ken Milberg in IBM System Magazine's Mainframe EXTRA called "The Gen Xer's Guide to the Mainframe Part II". You can see the article at www.ibmsystemsmag.com/mainframe/enewsletterexclusive/20679p1.aspx.
Generation Xers, Ken tells us, are those born after 1964, and, according to Wikipedia, before 1982. The article lists the benefits of mainframes as discovered by a fictional 41 year-old IT Director. In the article the cost efficiency of the mainframe is explored.
Ben, the fictional IT Director, discovers a number of reasons why the mainframe could save money when compared with distributed systems. He finds the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a mainframe is better than for distributed systems. He highlights maintenance, energy, cooling, design and architecture of networks, staffing woes, and the inability of IT to properly manage the proliferation of distributed systems, as bad news for distributed systems. He also mentions important topics such as security, back-ups, and disaster recovery as areas where distributed systems are weaker than mainframes.
In terms of risk management and compliance (SOX and all those other regulations that apply nationally, internationally, and at the local level) the mainframe wins again. He also mentions licensing software as a problem for distributed systems.
The article also highlights research by Arcati (www.arcati.com - the people responsible for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook) suggesting that by 2010 mainframe costs would be 25% of Windows server costs and 33% of Unix server costs.
Milberg suggests that with a mainframe, a new system could be configured in a few minutes, whereas a distributed system could take days.
He concludes by saying, "the mainframe provided everything that the distributed systems couldn't: security, reliability and dependability, breathtaking performance, manageability, and rock-solid support from a vendor with more than 40 years of experience with the product."
All this and it runs Java. I'm obviously totally in agreement, and looking forward to part III of this article.