That old dinosaur, the mainframe, to drive innovation: Survey

  • The mainframe viewed as enabler of innovation as big data and cloud transform the face of enterprise IT
  • Companies seek candidates with cross-disciplinary skillsets to fill critical mainframe workforce needs, says CA Tech survey

That old dinosaur, the mainframe, to drive innovation: SurveyIN an increasingly complex IT landscape, the mainframe continues to serve as a cornerstone of growth and innovation within the enterprise infrastructure, according to a global survey from CA Technologies.
 
The study, titled “The Mainframe as a Mainstay of the Enterprise 2012,” revealed three major trends on the current and future role of the mainframe: It is playing an increasingly strategic role in managing the evolving needs of the enterprise; the mainframe is viewed as an enabler of innovation as big data and cloud computing transform the face of enterprise IT; and companies are seeking candidates with cross-disciplinary skillsets to fill critical mainframe workforce needs in the new enterprise IT paradigm.
 
According to a statement by CA Technologies, 95% of the respondents from Singapore and Malaysia who participated in the study confirm the mainframe is a strategic or highly strategic part of their current and future IT plans.
 
Almost all of the respondents from these two countries (95%) believe the mainframe is or will be a highly strategic platform in their cloud computing efforts. Notably, 85% of the Singapore- and Malaysia-based respondents believe their organizations will face a shortage of mainframe skills in the future, yet all the respondents felt their organisations were moderately or highly prepared to ensure the continuity of their mainframe workforce.
 
These figures strongly support the global findings and trends uncovered, placing the mainframe as a key strategic asset in this region.
 
Astrategic investment

More than 75% of US respondents and more than 80% of global respondents confirm the mainframe is a strategic or highly strategic part of their current and future IT plans.
 
In terms of spend, just more than half (51%) of US respondents and 46% of global respondents plan to increase spending for mainframe software in the next 12-18 months, while a third of US respondents (30%) and 36% of global respondents anticipate an increase in hardware spending in the next 12-18 months.
 
Additionally, 37% of US respondents and 44% internationally plan to increase spend on mainframe-related services.
 
“We can assume that the staggering growth of real-time data and the need for massive processing power to collate and analyze all that information surely has a lot to do with this trend,” said Jon Toigo, an industry veteran and currently managing principal of Toigo Partners International in Tampa Bay, Florida.
 
“E-commerce alone is generating huge volumes of data, and larger corporations in particular need a blend of power, scalability and security to manage the incoming information. They need the best tools and a mix of good technologies, including the mainframe, to stay competitive.”
 
A driver of innovation

With the rise of cloud computing, Big Data and enterprise mobility, the mainframe is expected to enable technology innovation for years to come. More than half of both US and global respondents (51% and 58%, respectively) believe the mainframe is or will be a highly strategic platform in their cloud computing efforts.
 
Flexibility in the delivery of new services, scalability and security were cited as the “most important” (US ranking) and “important” (global ranking) benefits in leveraging the mainframe to enable cloud.
 
As such, 63% of respondents globally and 65% in the United States are either currently evaluating or planning to deploy new tools that enable the rapid deployment and cost-efficient provisioning of private and hybrid cloud services on the mainframe platform in the next 12-36 months.
 
“We’re seeing a market in transition. Companies around the world are assessing how they can rapidly adapt to new cloud models and enable the delivery of new business services to meet the ever increasing demands on IT,” said Victor Cheng, vice president, Asia South, CA Technologies.
 
“The mainframe continues to be a strategic platform that delivers the flexibility, scalability and security needed to meet these new service demands and business priorities,” he said.
 
Finally, as mobile continues to be a driving force in IT innovation, the study found that companies will continue to integrate mobility into their mainframe initiatives. More than two thirds of US respondents and 74% of global respondents say they already have or are planning to sanction mobile management of the mainframe within the next 18 months.
 
Workforce transition
 
Though many have spoken of a looming skills shortage facing the mainframe workforce, “Mainframe as a Mainstay of the Enterprise 2012” identified a silver lining: 76% of global respondents and 74% in the United States believe their organizations will face a shortage of mainframe skills in the future, yet almost all respondents (98% globally and 97% in the United States) felt their organizations were moderately or highly prepared to ensure the continuity of their mainframe workforce.
 
Additionally, only 8% of global and 7% of US respondents indicated having great difficulty finding qualified mainframe talent, while 61% reported having “some” difficulty in doing so. Although recruiting of qualified talent continues to pose a challenge, many companies find themselves prepared to handle the transition when the process of finding skilled mainframe workers takes longer than expected.
 
“There’s an interesting paradigm between a clear shortage of mainframers and the need to support our customers for which the mainframe is growing and evolving,” said Cheng.
 
What the study ultimately found was that the mainframe workforce is one in transition, as the mainframe’s role in cloud computing evolves and a cross-disciplinary skillset becomes a critical criterion in identifying qualified candidates.
 
Over the next 12 months, 89% of global and 84% of US respondents planned to implement some form of hybrid cross-platform management, including design teams, shared budgets, shared staffing or shared organizational leadership.
 
With this in mind, more than half of respondents worldwide (55%) said that when recruiting mainframe talent, it’s essential for a candidate to possess both mainframe and distributed skill sets.
 
Decipher Research polled 623 IT professionals from 11 countries worldwide in August 2012 on behalf of CA Technologies. For more information, click here.

 
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