Pro-mainframe Arguments
August 31, 2017 Mainframe Agility, Workforce

Three Pro-mainframe Arguments Your C-levels Want to Hear

“The mainframe is dead.” How often have you heard those words over the last decade-plus? It’s a myth that should have faded by now, but it comes back time and again. Perhaps we haven’t marshaled the most powerful pro-mainframe arguments to counter it. Have we been too passive, leaving the platform to do the hard work of presenting its great legacy?

Those working with the mainframe have a responsibility to counter the propaganda of the anti-mainframe community that decries the platform’s strengths—as if those are myths. They may tell the world it’s time to move on, that everything should run on the cloud and servers now. But you know better. Servers are a nightmare, and the cloud, while great for less-mission-critical work, can’t compete with the mainframe for hosting mission-critical workloads.

You and your team need to become pro-mainframe ambassadors and approach management with the most compelling arguments for keeping mission-critical work on the platform where it performs best. You have to help management avoid at all costs the risky, time-consuming, expensive “rip, rewrite and replace” migration strategies so many organizations have already attempted and failed at. To do that, arm yourself with these three pro-mainframe arguments focusing on the issues C-levels care most about.

Three Powerful Pro-mainframe Arguments

  1. Mainframes are more economical.
    For years, mainframe antagonists have cited the “lower” costs of alternative platforms, focusing in only on the cost of the hardware. But imagine if airlines did the same thing.  The cost of a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza is a pittance compared to the cost of a Boeing 747, yet if your business is transporting people or goods, the Bonanza is an impossibly expensive way to run it. You have to consider the all-in costs of your platform.In 2015, research from Dr. Howard Rubin, Founder and CEO of Rubin Worldwide, indicated that “while computing power has doubled over the last five years, server-heavy organizations’ costs have gone up 63 percent more than mainframe-heavy organizations.” 

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    True, mainframes are costlier than servers in terms of their initial hardware cost. Yet when you consider the price per transaction (or batch job), they are a far better deal. Companies desiring to process millions of transactions per day (or hour) and efficiently handle the backend and batch processing simultaneously will be able to do so cheaper on the mainframe. A few dedicated systems programmers can support several mainframes, even with multiple LPARs per box, but you need large teams of experts to do all the work of keeping servers running efficiently.Infrastructure costs (space, cooling, electricity) are also a factor. Unless you need the geographical distribution of resources to avoid network delays, like Google or Netflix, mainframes really deliver at a reasonable cost. IBM is on top of trying to reduce the cost of the hardware and software. And ISVs have responded to zIIPs by zIIP-enabling as much of their software as possible, further reducing costs.

  2. Mainframes are more securable.
    It wasn’t always this way, but with intensified scrutiny by the government and the risk of exposure of personal data impacting everyone, security is now a competitive edge. Mainframes are much more secure, with security features improving all the time.For example, look at the new IBM z14 mainframe’s pervasive encryption—no one, even within the non-mainframe tech space, has been able to overlook this as one of the most modern security improvements available in computing systems today. And modern cybersecurity and compliance tools like Compuware Application Audit make mainframe security even stronger by improving detection of insider threats.As we all know, servers are much easier to hack and seemingly much more attractive. All of us have experienced either your own or a friend’s hijacked email. Too many have experienced worse, identity theft being the most serious.
  1. Mainframes enable better customer experience.
    With the increasing ease customers switch brands and providers based on how quickly companies develop and deliver efficiency-improving innovations. Quality performance and availability have become differentiators in creating delightful customer experiences.Mainframes are almost infinitely scalable, highly available and capable of almost astonishing performance. Hence, mainframes are admirably suited to helping your company compete for, win and retain loyal customers.

Any mainframer worth his or her salt will tell me that there are far more valid pro-mainframe arguments than the ones proposed here, and they will be absolutely right. Yet, by focusing in on the three biggest challenges facing C-levels today, you have a better chance of winning the argument than by confusing people with myriad validation points.

Want to help dispel the myth of the mainframe’s demise? Focus your arguments by appealing to the needs and desires of the gatekeepers in your company who ultimately drive that decision. And then tell them you don’t plan to retire because you’re having too much fun working on the mainframe. The best part of all—every word you say will be true.

Learn more pro-mainframe arguments when you download “Mainstreaming the Mainframe Why Enterprise DevOps Should Take Control of Legacy Applications-Now.”

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