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Analyst: Long Live The Mainframe

Mainframes still have a stronghold in the United States and are becoming more popular in emerging markets like China, India, and South America, according to a new report.
Virtualization technologies and advancements in services-oriented architecture will push mainframe adoption in existing markets, as well as in emerging markets like China, India and South America, according to a new report.

The Butler Group, an IT research firm based in England, says the mainframe's "green" abilities, like power-saving features, and the expense of migrating away from them also give the mainframe legs in the enterprise market. The report, The King Is Dead--Long Live The Mainframe, says 70% of organizations and governments are running critical applications on mainframes.

A data center is a major consumer of power, not to mention a major contributor to a company's energy bill. According to IBM, one Z9 mainframe consumes one-twelfth of the energy required to power servers running in a distributed computing environment that provides the same computing horsepower.

"However, IBM does not state whether this is an equivalent virtual computing environment or a traditional physical one, but in either case, the Z9 consumes less power," writes Roy Illsley, an analyst with the Butler Group, in the report.

Illsley notes that many in the industry point to the decreasing demand for mainframe skills in the marketplace as proof that mainframes are becoming the dinosaur of the IT shop. He points out that while there are few advertisements for Cobol programmers in the United States, economies like China, India, and South America are in the midst of a resurgence of mainframe skills.

"The mainframe has created a solid user base in the financial services and government sectors based on its reliability, security and performance capabilities," says Illsley. "However, the challenge for the mainframe is to move beyond this traditional perception and move towards being considered as one possible solution in simplifying the data center and making IT more flexible."