Who Doesn’t Love Mainframe Trivia! | March 28, 2023

Who Doesn't Love Mainframe Trivia
By Sonja Soderlund

It’s no secret that a mainframe system is a huge business investment. But when it comes to optimizing the ROI on that investment, many companies downplay the importance of what comes after the initial purchase. 

Mainframes, according to DataKinetics’ Larry Strickland, are literally designed to save businesses money, but the outcomes depend greatly on cost-management and optimization strategies that maximize the speed and performance of mainframe workloads. 

In his article “Greening the Mainframe Grass: How to Optimize ROI for Mainframes,” (♧ HINT) Strickland outlines the ways to get the most bang from your mainframe buck. Firstly, Strickland states that you need to keep your workloads running on them – rather than on costly commodity servers. 

Another way to see ideal ROI on your mainframe investment? Modernize the mainframe environment with technologies like z/OS Connect to run modern, API-driven applications on mainframes.

Cost aside, the idea that mainframes are inherently more secure than commodity servers is part of their still broad appeal for top organizations. Their simplified architecture may indeed make them less vulnerable to hackers, but Christopher Tozzi argues that this is no reason to get lazy about securing your Mainframe system.

In his article, “Best Practices for Closing the Mainframe Security Gap” (♧ HINT) Tozzi addresses some of the critical security gaps in mainframe systems. You’ll want to read the whole article to get the deep-dive, but suffice it to say that security risks abound – from vulnerabilities within operating systems to the lack of security expertise of mainframe engineers. 

While modern cybersecurity solutions don’t generally cater to mainframes, Tozzi outlines ways that mainframe admins can help close the gap between securing their mainframes and securing the rest of their IT estates.

What percentage of the world’s transactions are mainframes responsible for powering?

  1. 71 percent
  2. 23 percent
  3. 45 percent

Click to Reveal Answer

A: 71 percent

How much energy do mainframes consume compared to x86 machines (when running workloads of equivalent capacity)?

  1. 12 percent more
  2. 40 percent more
  3. 50 percent less

Click to Reveal Answer

C: 50 percent less

How do labor costs for mainframe maintenance compare to centralized server environments?

  1. Around 50 percent lower
  2. About equal
  3. 25 percent higher

Click to Reveal Answer

A: Around 50 percent lower

What is one way to “air-gap” a mainframe?

  1. Disconnect it from the internet
  2. Creating an optimal, temperature-controlled environment
  3. Ensuring all internal fans are working properly

Click to Reveal Answer

A: Disconnect it from the internet

Which of these does not cause a security risk for mainframes?

  1. Weak or improperly configured access controls in mainframe environments
  2. Vulnerabilities in mainframe operating systems (like z/OS)
  3. Having fewer variables at play on mainframe systems

Click to Reveal Answer

C: Having fewer variables at play on mainframe systems

The common ground between “Greening the Mainframe Grass: How to Optimize ROI for Mainframes” and “Best Practices for Closing the Mainframe Security Gap” is the idea that for mainframes to provide long-term service in a secure and cost-effective manner, complacency will get businesses precisely nowhere. Mainframe admins need to tend the mainframe system like a suburban dad cares for his manicured lawn (to borrow Strickland’s analogy).  Of course, the dearth of mainframe technicians is another issue entirely – but we’ll save the hand-wringing for another day.