IDC Survey Reveals Increased Investments in Mainframe Hardware and Software Planned Over The Next Five Years

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – September 14, 2009 – Mired in a storm of economic uncertainty, plans for increased investments in mainframe hardware and software represent a ray of light for enterprise data center managers who plan to leverage their existing mainframe deployments. According to a new, comprehensive IDC survey of 300 end users, nearly one-half of respondents indicated they plan to increase annual spending on mainframe hardware and software.

IDC's in-depth assessment of the mainframe's role in the multi-platform data center provides insights into the current state of the IBM System z mainframe platform, examines hardware characteristics and capacity, and analyzes the key workloads and use cases that will determine the fate of the mainframe in the future.

The study identifies the emergence of a blended, or hybrid, approach to computing on the IBM System z platform. "Customers are finding that new workloads, including Linux-based and Java-based workloads, can leverage the mainframe's built-in security and high levels of availability, by running them on mainframe specialty processors, such as the IFL, zIIP and zAAP processors," said Jean S. Bozman, research vice president with IDC's Enterprise Platforms Group. "This pattern of adoption is placing software licensing costs on a lower price schedule for these new workloads than if they were running natively on the IBM System z hardware platform. In this way, customers are seeing a blended approach to deploying and maintaining workloads – carrying longtime workloads forward on System z, even as they bring new workloads onto the mainframe."

Changes in the storage environment are also expected. "As more people access these systems, investments in capacity must be made to accommodate increased usage of existing applications," said Laura DuBois, program director, Storage Software. "Additionally, usage growth will be driven by a range of new workloads coming onto the mainframe platform, and from applications that need access to mainframe-hosted databases." The importance of the mainframe and its mission-critical workloads to large businesses not only ensures its longevity, but also drives additional storage investments.

The mainframe is still seen by respondents as a key element of centrally managed corporate data and high value computing workloads by providing them with a layer of highly controllable enterprise management software. Many customers reported that they can plan another wave of investments in the System z platform over the next 2-5 years, given the system's high availability, reliability, and security for mission-critical applications. "Customers continue to collect dividends on their System z investments, which makes future investments much more palatable, even in difficult economic times," said Tim Grieser, program vice president, Enterprise System Management Software. "The positive outlook for the mainframe is also driven by specific initiatives designed to improve the utility and operational efficiency of the platform from the perspectives of highly scalable operations, ability to run new workloads, and total cost of operations (TCO)."

Additional findings from this special study include the following:

* IBM has revitalized the mainframe by implementing the specialized processor strategy

* According to survey respondents, "processing power" and "system reliability/uptime" were the top-ranked reasons for hosting applications on the mainframe

* Favorable pricing was the number one reason for migrating applications off the mainframe.

Additional survey findings can be found in the IDC special study, Mainframe Directions in the Multi-Platform Data Center 2009-2013: Today's Workloads and Future Outlook (IDC #219797). This study presents results of an IDC research project conducted to gain insights into usage patterns for IBM System z mainframes, and to better understand user attitudes and user intentions concerning the use of such systems in the future. To gather information, IDC conducted a Web-based survey of mainframe-knowledgeable IT experts and decision makers during the Winter and Spring of 2009. A total of 300 respondents provided data regarding the usage patterns they see in their sites—and data regarding their future intentions regarding acquisition of System z and software to run on the mainframe platform. Follow-up in-depth interviews were conducted with 5 selected mainframe users by IDC analysts to add depth to the analysis. Only IBM mainframe users were included in the survey population.

About IDC

IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 45 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting[].