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Interview: Preparing for the longevity of mainframes

T.C. Seow | Sept. 26, 2012
Q&A with James Russell, Area Vice President, MSM Sales, Asia Pacific at BMC Software, on what businesses should look out for when considering and looking ahead into the future of mainframes.

With the rise of the Internet coupled with the proliferation of smart devices, mainframes have found a new lease of life by adapting to today's rapidly changing business environment. From credit card payments to monitoring exports, the mainframe provides "mission critical" processing with unparalleled security and processing power.

BMC recently concluded their annual mainframe survey that supported the viability of the mainframe. One of the key findings from survey found that despite 75 percent of Asia Pacific respondents identifying cost reduction as their top IT priority, the Asia Pacific region reported higher MIPS growth (71 percent) than the Americas (59 percent) and EMEA (54 percent). The primary contributor to substantial MIPS growth in the Asia Pacific region is driven by existing applications and databases already hosted on the mainframe (81 percent).

We talk to James Russell, Area Vice President, MSM Sales, Asia Pacific at BMC Software on what businesses should look out for when considering and looking ahead into the future of mainframes.

James Russell, BMC
Photo: James Russell, Area Vice President, MSM Sales, Asia Pacific, BMC Software

Q: How should enterprises still relying on mainframe computers resolve their skills shortage in this field?

James Russell: BMC believes one of the most effective ways to ensure mainframe efficiency and support starts with using the right kind of mainframe management solutions to automate much of the workload that is otherwise performed manually. This provides multiple direct benefits including:

• Productivity in terms of numbers of staff required to support the platform

• Enabling a level of abstraction from platform specific complexities that allow more generically skilled personnel to support the mainframe along with other key technologies

• Risk mitigation by using properly documented tools and processes that don't rely on 'tribal' or historical knowledge about how things were done in the past -- the tools provide the documentation!

In addition, using the right management solutions reduces mainframe costs while improving service levels as they enable optimisation of both system performance and availability. The right kind of mainframe management solutions enable companies to optimise resources, closely monitor application processes and maximise availability.

Companies can reduce their dependency on having a larger number of highly skilled professionals to run the day-to-day operations on mainframe platforms. This is central to the value proposition that BMC's solutions deliver.

Although mainframes don't receive as much attention as cloud computing or smart devices, they remain a core component in international businesses that handle millions of transactions every day running 24 by 7 without scope for outage. With this said, there is a growing concern that the complex knowledge needed to run mainframe applications is being lost as many of the existing staff are not replaced quickly enough as increasingly more of the younger workforce are moving toward cloud computing or mobile app development. This is why management solutions and tools are part but not all of the solution.


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