SHARE System z mainframe survey results

SHARE, the independent mainframe and System z user group, presented the results of its recent survey of data center concerns at its twice-yearly conference held in Boston last week. The biggest surprise among the results was how low identity management ranked (#20) among the issues that keep enterprise data center managers awake at night. Given all the publicity given to security breaches, identity theft, and privacy leaks, you’d think identity management would have ranked at least a little higher.

The top five concerns were predictable:

  1. Cost management, reduction, and/or avoidance
  2. Server virtualization, followed by storage and network virtualization
  3. Improving the value of IT or deriving competitive advantage from IT
  4. Enterprise security
  5. Regulatory compliance (SOX, PCI, DSS, HIPAA, Basel II, FISMA)

Given the Top 5 ranking of security and compliance, it is surprising that identity management ranked at the bottom.

The mainframe should do very well when it comes to addressing the Top 5 at least. As noted here many times, although the mainframe remains costly to acquire, it does very well in terms of long term TCO.  Similarly, the mainframe is far more extensively virtualized than any distributed platforms; nothing touches z/VM when it comes to large scale, industrial strength virtualization.

Only when it comes to deriving competitive advantage from IT do mainframe shops tend to fall short. Today big wins in improving business value or gaining competitive advantage from IT come through SOA and business intelligence (BI) on the mainframe. Mainframe shops have only started to make gains with BI and SOA in recent years. You can check out some of my System z BI and SOA mainframe case studies here and here.  The new zEnterprise should spur this along.

Another interesting result occurred around the contradictory ideas of reinvigorating/repurposing the mainframe and replacing the mainframe. The idea of reinvigorating the mainframe proved more popular among SHARE respondents (#7) than replacing the mainframe (#10). Again, the new zEnterprise with its ability to closely integrate and manage workloads running on the z and on x86 and POWER7 blades should make reinvigorating the mainframe a more attractive option, especially in organizations already running POWER7 and x86 workloads.

In keeping with the reinvigorate rather than replace tone of the survey responses, respondents also were less enthusiastic about offshore outsourcing (#14) and outsourcing in general (#16)

Among other interesting results, cloud computing ranked sixth, just out of the top five. The z certainly is a good candidate for cloud hosting. Some argue that a mainframe data center already is an internal cloud. The new zEnterprise should only encourage more thinking along the line of private clouds.

Finally, not surprising but still disappointing were the low ranking of mobile platforms (#15) and social media (#19). Mobile clients increasingly will be the way end-users access mainframe data and applications. No problem; the mainframe can handle mobile today, even interfacing with iPhones via RDz. Social media, too, will play bigger roles in enterprise computing. Again, the mainframe can play here too, especially through SOA.

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