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Built for the cloud

Jack Loo | July 7, 2011
Mainframes are sound investments when done right.

Of course, the shortage of administrators trained in mainframes and also the lack of mainframe education in institutions are definitely issues that are close to the hearts of most companies who work with mainframes, and to CA Technologies. That's why we have invested in educating new mainframe professionals.

We definitely see a need for there to be an emphasis in preparing a new generation of upcoming talent to be mainframe trained. In fact, we recently donated US$1 million in scholarships towards this cause.

Having said that, we also feel the manpower cost is one of the major areas that can be improved for companies adopting mainframes moving forward. This is why our vision for the future of the mainframe is to make them easier to manage, while further boosting the operating efficiency through automation.

If you look at the way mainframe software tools are designed today versus the tools that were used, say, 10 years ago, there is a consistent effort to design more intuitive graphical user interface (GUIs). However, a challenge in fully adopting the use of icons and graphics is that it might isolate the veteran IS professionals. What we will see is a gradual evolution, similar to how any desktop operating system came to be where it is at today.

It will take time, but I believe it is moving in the right direction.

We are very aware that a GUI interface may not always be the perfect output for some of the nitty-gritty parts of working with a mainframe and so we built our toolset to serve the needs of both the veteran and the novice.

3) Mainframe hardware is expensive, licensing and software costs tend to be high, and there is a shortage of mainframe skills. How can IT departments deal with these issues?

The success of IBM's new z196 zEnterprise mainframe demonstrates that the mainframe is a source of business advantage for those companies that have mainframes and exploit it to the fullest. Most global enterprises already have mainframes in place, so the issue tends not to be the purchase of a new multi-million dollar system. 

Instead, the question facing customers is how to best leverage the investments they have already made in mainframe hardware and software. That said, the savings companies can realise from shifting workloads to the mainframe are substantial enough - and the additional benefits in reliability, security, and compliance are compelling enough - that it would be short-sighted to think only in terms of capital equipment costs. 

Even in a tight economy, short-term thinking doesn't make sense. In fact, it's more important than ever for companies to think about what they can do today to make sure their IT operations are as cost-efficient as possible over the long term - especially if there's another big surge in energy prices.


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