September 25, 2012 – Mainframes are finding a larger role in the alignment of IT and business, according to an annual survey by vendor BMC Software.

In its seventh annual survey of IT staff and business executives on their mainframe plans and experiences, BMC found the top three priorities for enterprise mainframe use remained the same as in years past: reducing the cost of IT, disaster recovery and application modernization. But the survey saw a big year-over-year jump in the interest in mainframes as a means to align IT and business priorities. Twenty-seven percent of respondents tagged that reason as a priority, ranking it fourth overall, up three spots from last year’s survey.

Jay Lipovich, director of product management at the BMC’s Mainframe Service Management unit, says the growth in business-side interest is “part of this broader story” that enterprise data is establishing in revenue and customer streams. IT teams are at the forefront of dealing with information management trends and trouble spots, such as enterprise mobility and big data, and rely on the hardware on-hand as the basis of programs and development, according to Lipovich. To that end, 90 percent of respondents report that the mainframe remains part of their long range business system plans.

Interest in lowering the cost of legacy application support continued its recent rise. When asked about application modernization objectives for the coming year, 39 percent stated they’d look to reduce the cost of legacy application support, up almost 10 percent from results in 2010.

In a new question to the annual survey, about one-third of respondents stated they had suffered some form of unplanned production mainframe outage in the last 12 months. Only 10 percent of those outages were deemed to have caused “significant impact” to systems or business information. Among the top causes of all outages were hardware failure (31 percent), system software failure (30 percent) and in-house application failure (28 percent).

Some aspects of the survey continued on with trends that have been growing over the past few of BMC’s mainframe surveys. More respondents reported the installation of specialty engines, with 68 percent of enterprises having adopted one or more of the engines, up from 53 percent from two years ago. Meanwhile, other elements of the survey stayed relatively the same from last year’s numbers: Responses surrounding the expectations with MIPS compared with the past year pointed to near-mirror figures with rates of growth (59 percent), stabilization (30 percent) and decline (11 percent) to those reported in 2011.

The 2012 edition of the survey involved answers from 1,264 respondents worldwide, not all of whom are BMC customers. That figure was down from 1,347 respondents in 2011’s survey.

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