Is it blind faith or common sense that keeps CIOs loyal to the mainframe?

According to the latest survey of CIOs, IT leaders still have faith in the long-term future of the mainframe. Or do they?

Everybody knows that the mainframe is not a dead piece of technology but one that continues to be used in key applications for industries such as banking, defence, and the physical sciences, where the serious crunching of very large numbers is required.

While that may be so, about once a year or so, for more years than I like to think about, I have written my 'The mainframe is not dead' story - if for no other reason than the mainframe hardware, software, and systems vendors keep expressing that point of view.

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So now, here in June 2015, is my latest take on that story. This time it comes courtesy of the mainframe software vendor, Compuware, which has just released its latest research on the state of the mainframe market.

Its survey of 350 CIOs around the world offered some interesting takeaways, chiefly what Compuware believes is a "profound disconnect" between the continued importance of the mainframe to the business and the "lack of action that CIOs are taking to protect their investments in the platform".

According to the survey, 88 percent of CIOs agreed that the mainframe will continue to be a key business asset over the next decade. Meanwhile 81 percent believe that far from stagnating, mainframe technology continues to evolve and runs "more new and different workloads than they did five years ago".

Some 89 percent said that mainframe code is valuable corporate intellectual property while slightly fewer (78 percent) agreed that the mainframe is a key enabler of innovation.

Research shows the mainframe is current to businesses' needs. Image: Compuware
Big data is one area where the mainframe scores high marks, according to the Compuware survey. Image: Compuware
The mainframe is still seen as a key strategic platform by many CIOs. Image: Compuware
The research shows there is no sign of the mainframe's workload diminishing with an overwhelming majority of CIOs predicting a continued increase in workloads. Image: Compuware

While all of this is good news for the mainframe vendors, the CIOs surveyed are worried about a looming skills shortage as more and more mainframe specialists approach retirement.

Some 70 percent said they are concerned about knowledge transfer. There is a lack of mainframe skills among younger IT workers and more than one-third of CIOs (39 percent) said that they and/or their organisation had "no explicit plans for addressing mainframe developer shortages".

Further Reading:

Mainframe storage vendor Infinidat gets $150m

Bridge to the past: OpenLegacy's plan to bring mainframes into the 21st century

BMC, Compuware take aim at mainframe costs