Why Is Mainframe Still Relevant and Thriving in 2022

Mainframe systems are highly relevant even under the shadow of cloud computing. And, why not? Businesses need them to carry out millions of monetary or data transactions per minute to stay afloat.

Mainly, people from Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, AWS, and other cloud-based SaaS service providers insist that mainframe computers have become outdated. They also believe that the mainframe systems manufacturer, IBM, should declare the end of life for these big iron as cloud computing is seeing faster growth. 

However, the happenings around us in the 2022 summer do not subscribe to the above expectations by cloud computing experts or lobbyists.

IBM, the leader in mainframe systems manufacturing and servicing, has announced upgrade plans, migration opportunities, capability enhancement plans, collaborations, and more. Moreover, recent financial reports of IBM do not show any declining trend for the mainframe industry.

The Relevance of Mainframes in 2022: Eye-Opening Statistics

1. Update on Mainframe Usage by Businesses in 2020 Q4 by IBM

No doubt, virtualization, and cloud computing have taken the IT world by storm. All companies want to move some or all of their business operations to the cloud. While many do not want to go to the cloud or can not do that because their applications may not support it. 

Such a cloud-first approach has hit the mainframe business hard. However, mainframe systems are still surviving, and there are new orders in the market.

The following statistics show the relevance of mainframe machines even when everyone is talking about cloud computing. IBM initially published this in its business report for 2020:

The Relevance of Mainframes in 2022 Eye-Opening Statistics
  • 45 of the global and top-grossing banks still prefer mainframe computers
  • 67 of the Fortune 100 companies chose to retain mainframes along with cloud computing
  • 8 out of the top 10 telecommunications companies prefer the continued use of their mainframe systems
  • 8 out of the 10 leading insurance providers still use big iron machines
  • 4 out of the top 5 airline companies use mainframe systems
  • 7 out of the 10 leading retail chain corporations rely on mainframe systems to handle millions of transactions in a day

2. Deloitte Survey on Mainframe Preference in 2020

A 2020 Deloitte-run survey on companies that use mainframes systems revealed the following interesting data:

  • 74% of the survey-participant businesses consider mainframe systems important for their operations though they actively subscribe to cloud computing services. Businesses mainly consider mainframe systems as strategic technology solutions for long-term survival and operation.
  • 91% of the participants expressed interest in expanding their big iron footprint as a moderate to critical priority in the upcoming 12 months.
  • 72% of businesses who took the survey revealed that they are in conversation with IBM for system upgrades in the next three years.

3. Statista Report on Big Iron’s Role in Hybrid IT Strategy in 2021

Statista ran this survey on big businesses spanning ten different industry verticals. There were a total of 207 respondents in this study. The scope of the survey was worldwide. And it lasted throughout the year 2021. 

A general summary of this survey on the mainframe’s role in IT hybridization reveals the following interesting facts:

  • Businesses are considering integrating their mainframe systems with cloud infrastructure for a hybrid IT infrastructure strategy. 56% of the survey respondents agree with this.
  • Businesses that participated in the above study say that mainframe computers will be in the driving seat of 88% of the projects in the coming decade.
  • 85% of the respondents of this report believe and trust mainframe solutions to solve modern technology problems critical to highly scaled-up businesses.

4. General Statistics on Mainframe Adoption

Here are other notable statistics on mainframe systems usage by global businesses in recent years: 

  • A huge chunk of Fortune 500 companies use mainframe systems, at least 71%.
  • Credit transactions heavily rely on sophisticated mainframe systems. Globally 90% of credit card transactions happen on mainframe systems.
  • Worldwide, mainframe systems handle 68% of information technology workloads. This accounts for only 6% of the total IT spending. Hence, usage of mainframe systems is still more cost-effective than other solutions. 
  • The IBM mainframe z16 comes with a whopping 40TB RAIM (Redundant Array of Independent Memory) to handle high-throughput business transactions. 
  • The mainframe computers can withstand bizarre natural calamities like an earthquake of up to 8.0 magnitude.
  • IBM z16 is powerful enough to process up to 300 billion inference requests in a single day.
  • Mainframes are critical for the banking industry. Hence, 92 out of 100 leading banks use mainframe computers for transaction speed, reliability, security, and affordability.            

Reasons Why Mainframe Business Is Growing

Reasons Why Mainframe Business Is Growing

Mainframe business is not just thriving under the dark shadow of cloud computing, it has sprung up in recent years. The followings are the major reasons that we can think of: 

1. Growth in the Mainframe Software Supply Business

Broadcom, CA Technologies, BMC, etc., are some of the leaders in the sector of mainframe software providers. They all have reported strong annual financial reports. This indicates the following:

  • Businesses that have been using mainframe systems are maintaining existing software licenses.
  • Some companies who have procured new mainframe systems are getting new licenses.
  • Some businesses are also ordering upgrades.    

2. A New Player in the Mainframe Business

Kyndryl Holdings, a spin-off of IBM’s infrastructure services business is one of the leaders in the mainframe computer business. It offers an array of solutions to modernize IBM i and IBM Z operating systems for your mainframe computers.

3. Increase of Large-Scale IT Services Companies

Large-scale IT services companies are growing at an extraordinary pace to cater to the void in the technology industries like big data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), audience intelligence, business intelligence, and more.

All the above business cases will require a reliable, secure, 24-by-7 uptime guarantee and a high-volume transaction-capable machine. A mainframe computer is the only answer we see in the coming years. 

Why? Mainframe systems are highly affordable compared to other platforms. And when there is a need to process billions of transactions per second. Businesses can scale up or down—depending upon pricing plan usage, resource usage, growth patterns, and more. Also, there’s an opportunity for a mainframe-as-a-service (MFaaS) revenue model for businesses.

Not to mention the financial year-end (FYEs) reports of large-scale IT companies like TCS, Infosys, DXC, and Wipro give a clear hint of a boost in the mainframe maintenance services and application development contracts.       

4. Mainframe Upgrades

IBM z16 brings new AI capabilities and improved cyber resiliency to mainframe shops and helps to transform the hybrid cloud performance. The large-scale businesses that use mainframes today will likely upgrade to the latest big iron from IBM.  

5. Digital Transformation

For IT organizations struggling with transformation projects, it might make sense to have another look at their mainframe systems. It might be their best bet to handle increased transformation workloads combined with growing demands in transaction processing. There is no better platform to deal with these varied workloads.

The Relevance of Mainframes in 2022: Optimizing Existing Mainframes

If you still have doubts about the applicability of mainframe systems presently, find below some additional benefits that big iron offers when you extend its scope of service: 

The Relevance of Mainframes in 2022 Optimizing Existing Mainframe Systems
  • Mainframes can serve the need for your virtually indefinite storage of data for analysis and backup.
  • Mainframe systems can offer 99.999% availability throughout the year.
  • You can access data securely in the cloud while the mainframe keeps your data secured through encryption, multi-factor authentication, and more.
  • Optimized mainframes are designed in a way that they support cross-platform automation and monitoring solutions.
  • It can support containerized apps required in DevOps processes.
  • A single z15 mainframe system can handle up to 1 trillion HTTPS transactions in a day.
  • Mainframes can cater to your blockchain network hosting and processing needs. Learn more on that in your Blockchain And The IBM zMainframe article.      

The Relevance of Mainframes in 2022: Final Words

IBM’s announcement of a modernized version of the Z-series mainframe is the perfect example that indicates that mainframe systems are here to stay.

You have seen the sunset for various legacy technologies in the IT industry. Prominent examples are master boot record (MBR) for mass storage drives, Internet Explorer, Yahoo Messenger, Google Hangouts, and more. 

Mainframe systems are nothing like these standalone apps or computer hardware management systems.

The primary benefits of mainframe systems, like backward compatibility of business applications and hot-swapping of hardware ensure that businesses can not just do away with these big machines.

If you are in the mainframe computer business or own a big iron, you need to look for optimization of these systems to enjoy fault-free service for years to come.

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