October 28, 2010 – Mainframes remain the data center of choice for businesses, with the majority of users expecting to invest and expand in mainframes in the near future despite cloud and virtualization buzz, according to findings from a BMC-sponsored survey.

More than half of mainframe users (57 percent) expect the mainframe to grow and attract new workloads, a 5-percent decrease from last year. An additional 37 percent of users expect the mainframe to remain viable in their long-range view, a 4-percent increase from 2009, according to the survey. Four percent of users in the survey felt the mainframe is no longer viable and that businesses should consider an exit strategy, around the same rate from the last four years.

The fifth annual study had its largest ever survey pool, with more than 1,700 respondents, mostly systems programmers and IT directors from various industries across the Americas. About two-thirds of those surveyed were customers of the Houston-based business services management mainframe and software company. The findings echo recent statements on the financial stability and overall presence of the mainframe market by IBM and CA Technologies, respectively.

Bill Miller, BMC Software president of mainframe service management, acknowledges that cloud computing and virtualization have received a lot of attention and interest in the past year. However, he says only about 5 percent of business users have moved off the mainframe entirely.

“And we’ve seen some of those move back in the next year. Others say they’re making plans, so that is going on out there,” Miller says. “But, generally speaking, what we’re seeing is that people with mainframes – and definitely the larger shops – are looking for ways to leverage their mainframes.”

Miller says specialty engines at large businesses have driven recent growth in the mainframe market. In a 16-percent increase from 2009, 53 percent of organizations asked this year have installed one or more specialty engines to handle millions of instructions per second, or MIPS. In a slight increase from last year’s survey, dedication toward MIPS computing power is anticipated to grow in the next 24 months, with 41 percent in the survey estimating 1-to-10-percent growth, and 16 percent expecting even more engine use for MIPS.

In a multiple response survey question, 74 percent of respondents noted the availability of mainframes and their related tools as a top advantage to increasing investment and use toward MIPS.

For the first time in the survey, BMC included a question about reducing IT costs along with its gauge of top priorities for respondents in the coming year, and that concern led all others with 65 percent of participants citing it as their top priority. Other top priorities for mainframe users were addressing disaster recovery (34 percent), application modernization (30 percent) and business and IT alignment (29 percent).

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