10:59 AM
Connect Directly

CA To Overhaul Big Iron With Mainframe 2.0

The management company claims mainframes can represent only half the cost of distributed client-server architecture for light workloads.

It might sound like an oxymoron, but CA is going with it anyway. The management company unveiled a new Big Iron strategy this week that it calls Mainframe 2.0, a push to simplify mainframe software.

Software for the mainframe still represents about half of CA's total revenue, but CA recognized that there was substantial reason for an overhaul. Through many acquisitions over the years, CA counts a dizzying array of almost 390 mainframe products in its portfolio. Many have varying user interfaces and redundant functionality, and some haven't been upgraded for years to work with the latest mainframe technology. Meanwhile, many mainframe workers are on the verge of retiring, often never to be replaced.

And yet, according to CA, the top 2,000 historic mainframe customers are investing more in mainframes than they have in recent years, especially with the advent of IBM's newer cheap mainframe processors. CA claims mainframes can represent only half the cost of distributed client-server architecture for light workloads.

"There's no CEO or CFO who's interested in adding one more square foot of floor space," Chris O'Malley, executive VP of CA's mainframe business unit, said in an interview. "If you're running servers at 15% utilization, you're effectively burning money in the parking lot."

The onset of server virtualization may have actually helped mainframe investment, O'Malley said, as has the increase in use of Linux on IBM zSeries mainframes, also known as zLinux.

"The mainframe has perfected virtualization over the last 30 years, and you're seeing customers move to it for consolidation and virtualization now," he said. "We're also starting to see more customers at the entry level that are actually buying them not to run zOS, but to run VMs and zLinux on it."

While CA claims mainframe workloads have quadrupled since 2000, an aging workforce of mainframe operators is on the verge of retirement. CA has found that many of the mainframe workers in Fortune 2000 companies are now or will soon be eligible for retirement, and once they're gone, often no one that comes in to take their place. And so, making it easier to manage mainframes is task No. 1.

Simplification will come through several steps. First, CA will introduce a consistent installation stack to make it easy to get software up and running. The company will also move to a more predictable release cycle, starting with a new round of releases in May, that will also help CA do better integration testing. New products will be more automated, with more set pre-configurations. It will also enlist partners to help with installation and care and feeding of mainframes.

User interfaces will also see makeovers. CA aims to "dramatically simplify" them, and in some cases redesign the user interfaces to fit specific worker roles. Later, CA will deliver a more consistent user interface across its product line.

CA's initiative follows similar ones announced in recent years by IBM and BMC Software.

So, how else is virtualization revolutionizing business data centers? InformationWeek has published an independent report on how companies are reaping the benefits of virtualization, and avoiding the pitfalls. Download the report here (registration required).

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Google in the Enterprise Survey
Google in the Enterprise Survey
There's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity ­products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent ­mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers ­distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of June 19, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.