‘Tis the Season . . . For High Mainframe Performance

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As the holiday season approaches and online consumer activity increases, the performance of your business-critical, customer-facing applications becomes exceedingly important.

In a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Compuware, 2,025 U.S. adults age 18 and older – among them, 1,191 smartphone and/or tablet users – were asked about online shopping habits and mobile devices in relation to the holiday shopping season. The eye-opening results confirmed that retailers must commit to high performance of these external applications.

Some particularly important findings of the survey include:

  • 49 percent of smartphone and tablet users will use mobile devices to search for/buy gifts; this increases to 66 percent for users aged 18 to 34
  • 36 percent plan to do more shopping via their devices this year than last
  • 37 percent of smartphone/tablet users will abandon sales to shop elsewhere if a retailer’s mobile site or mobile application doesn’t load within three seconds; this number rises to  45 percent for smartphone/tablet users aged 18 to 34
  • 29 percent of smartphone/tablet users who have a poor online shopping experience are likely to complain on social media
  • 34 percent of smartphone/tablet users will be using company-specific native applications this holiday season, meaning performance needs to be maintained across multiple application versions and platforms created for different devices.

But wait—what does all this have to do with the mainframe?

In today’s IT landscape, there is a much closer relationship between the front- and back-end than ever before. The performance of your mainframe directly impacts the performance of your customer-facing applications – and the satisfaction of your customers.

In another survey (conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Compuware), this time of 350 CIOs at global companies across various industries, results showed that more than half (55 percent) of customer-facing and business-critical applications are dependent on the mainframe.

However, at the same time, 68 percent of CIOs feel distributed application developers are unaware of the impact they have on the mainframe environment. And this is a major concern as a poorly optimized application interacting with the mainframe will drive up MIPS (Million Instructions per Second) costs. Those costs could be drastically reduced if developers had visibility into how their code was impacting the mainframe.

As mainframe usage by distributed applications increases (up 44 percent in the past five years, according to 89 percent of the CIOs surveyed), so does complexity and risk to the mainframe environment – making its management much more difficult (per 87 percent of the CIOs). 74 percent of the CIOs surveyed said added complexity of applications working across distributed and mainframe environments is making problem resolution take longer, while at the same time, 75 percent are being pressured to reduce meantime to resolution on performance problems.

Another major concern is the prevalent use of outdated, silo-focused methods to monitor performance. Many companies (89 percent) still rely on aggregate data or averages to monitor performance. 79 percent – more than two-thirds – have no visibility into actual end-user experience and 63 percent of companies are often unaware of performance problems until calls start coming in to the help desk – which is much too late.

So how do you face this new complexity? Well, new problems require new solutions. The more interconnected your enterprise, the greater the need for an integrated form of management. Start rethinking outmoded means of problem resolution. Stop being reactive and take a proactive approach to identifying and rectifying performance issues before they turn into end-user problems. Give your company a gift they’d really appreciate: deliver time and resources back to the business. And give customers what they want this season: the gift of great performance.

Otherwise, you might end up with a lump of coal.

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Spencer Hallman

Spencer Hallman is Compuware’s product manager for zAdviser, which uses machine learning and KPIs to help customers continuously improve development quality, velocity and efficiency. Previously, he was the product manager for Compuware’s Strobe and iStrobe performance tools. His diverse experience over the years has also included programming on multiple platforms, providing technical support, serving as a subject matter expert and working in the operations research field. He has a Master of Business Administration from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Vermont.