BMC Mainframe Survey with zEnterprise

This past spring BMC again conducted its annual mainframe survey. Each year the results are fairly predictable. The majority of respondents intend to continue and even expand their operations or MIPS. Controlling costs is a perennial concern.

As dancingdinosaur noted of last year’s results: only 4% said the mainframe is not viable. Fully 85% of the 1700 respondents expected to grow their mainframe MIPS or at least maintain the same amount despite the recession. Nearly 60% indicated that the mainframe will attract new workloads over the next year. About half expected to expand the use of z specialty engines. You can find the dancingdinosaur piece from a year ago here.

This year’s study turned up a few different results. For sure, the usual concerns about controlling costs and staffing issues made it in, but this year’s survey also reflected for the first time introduction of the hybrid zEnterprise (z196) last year. A summary of this year’s study can be found here.

Fully 72% of survey respondents intend to deploy the zEnterprise within the next 18 months.  Almost half already had a z196 in production. Judging from the latest survey (and supported by IBM’s System z sales figures for the last several quarters), the hybrid zEnterprise clearly has caught on. That 63% of respondents indicated interest in running new workloads on the z196 further suggests healthy and expanding mainframe environments.

The zBX, however, has been much slower to gain traction. By last spring, few had the zBX in production or were actively pursuing a trial or testing. The zBX has to be considered a work in progress. IBM still hasn’t introduced all the various blades it promised. Most notably absent is the x86 blade running Windows. If priced right, that should jump start some zBX interest when it arrives, which could be soon. Overall, IBM has been generally slow to talk publicly about zBX blade performance and pricing. Until these issues have been addressed, you can expect zBX adoption to continue at the current snail’s pace.

Specialty engines continued to show small but steady growth over previous years. The IFL, which runs Linux, led the way and was followed closely by the zIIP, which runs DB2 workloads. The zAAP, which handles Java, attracted significantly less interest.

IT priorities don’t appear to have changed much. The top priority, not surprisingly, was reducing the cost of IT, followed by disaster recovery and application modernization. These were the same top three priorities as last year. The first significant changes occurred at the fourth priority, where MIPS utilization and reduction of outages tied. Both fourth place priorities address, in one form or another, IT cost reduction.

Among IT strategies favored by the respondents, server virtualization and server consolidation attracted the most interest. Among the cloud-related strategies, private clouds and SaaS/IaaS/IaaS generated the most interest compared to public and hybrid clouds. In general, BMC reports, larger shops had the most interest in the various cloud options.

When it comes to social media, the respondents clearly were not enthusiastic. Where there was some interest, it revolved around using the iPad to manage the z from the popular device. Dancingdinosaur first addressed iPads and mainframes here last year. Beyond that, interest in social media seems negligible. However, there was solid, if not exactly overwhelming, interest in managing System z and distributed systems together using a unified toolset. BMC along with IBM and CA are the primary vendors offering such capabilities.

Data center managers may pull out some inspiration from the survey results, mainly around unified management and the specific priorities for application modernization; increasing the flexibility of core apps and extending them through SOA and web services. Beyond that the strongest message may be for IBM to start being more forthcoming about the zBX.

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