The future of mainframes in the enterprise Credit: xkcd
Mainframe Servers

The future of mainframes in the enterprise

Mainframes tend to divide opinion amongst IT professionals. On one side there's the virtualisation-driven view that such machines are relics of a bygone technology era and should be replaced or migrated to virtual, cloud servers as soon as possible. This is already happening in areas such as SDDC (Software-Defined Data Centres) that are increasingly taking on roles traditionally held by mainframes.

On the other side are the advocates and engineers who believe that these big, robust computers still have a role to play in today's enterprise. Who's right?

If the engineers on the front-line are any guide, there's little growth in demand for mainframe services. Newsgroups dedicated to mainframe engineers, such as IBM-MAIN@LISTSERV.UA.EDU (registration required), are peppered with requests for work referrals in amongst the technical Q&As. It appears to be getting harder for people in this line of business to find new roles, at least in some locations.

Can LzLabs destroy the environment that has sustained one of our most cherished foundations that has been here since IT began? Check out: The mainframe is not dead yet

However, market analysis doesn't necessarily support this anecdotal evidence. A modest growth rate over the next five years is predicted. In that period, the general consensus seems to be that more sales will be at the higher-performance end, rather than at the entry level where Windows/Linux servers are increasingly competitive.

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Alex Cruickshank

Freelance technology journalist Alex Cruickshank grew up in England and emigrated to New Zealand several years ago, where he runs his own writing business.

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