Study: Many US companies plan to eliminate mainframes

Study: Many US companies plan to eliminate mainframes

About half of companies surveyed by CIO and Computerworld plan to eliminate their mainframe within the next three years.

In a recent survey conducted by CIO and Computerworld magazines, roughly half of the 389 IT executives in our survey reported plans to expand their data centre facilities while 21 percent plan to consolidate. For those companies planning to consolidate, the focus will be on hardware, storage and networks with less consolidation efforts on applications and physical data centres. Additionally, close to half of companies surveyed plan to eliminate their mainframe in the next three years. While data centres are a critical underpinning of IT and a key asset for delivering technology and training staff, CIOs hope to reduce costs, introduce new applications and simplify centres in the future. Key Findings

Close to half (47 percent) of those surveyed say their company will expand its data centre facilities within three years while one-third (32 percent) will maintain the same facilities. Twenty-one percent will consolidate or reduce their data centre facilities. IT is primarily responsible for data centre space planning (72 percent) although 36 percent of companies surveyed have a facilities committee involved in the planning decisions.

The primary drivers for making adjustments to their data centres were to reduce costs (63 percent), to bring in new capabilities without increasing costs (60 percent) and to consolidate multiple data centres into fewer locations for economies of scale and to centralise IT (37 percent).

When asked to describe their current data centre and its staff, half (52 percent) said their IT staff is composed of specific experts for most areas and 46 percent said the IT staff is composed mainly of generalists that handle multiple operations. Forty-one percent reported that the data centre relies heavily on homogeneous environments to reduce complexity while 24 percent said their data centre utilises heterogeneous environments for best-of-breed functionality. Slightly more than one-third (34 percent) reported that their data centre was largely automated (lights out) with staff providing exception maintenance versus routine maintenance.

When asked about the greatest barrier to having a true "lights out" data centre, IT professionals listed interface standards/systems (46 percent), management and monitoring tools to address security or compliance issues (44 percent) and policy-based, self-configuring systems to handle routine adjustments (42 percent) most frequently.

On consolidation specifically, the majority (66 percent) reported that their organisation was currently consolidating hardware servers 53 percent were consolidating applications (reducing number of licenses or seats) while 43 percent were consolidating networks (adding VOIP to existing network, etc.)

Over the next three years, 44 percent of those surveyed plan to eliminate their mainframe environment and 17 percent will reduce the number of installed MIPs. Twenty-two percent will maintain their current level of MIPs and 17 percent will hold steady at their current number of MIPs.

When asked about consolidation techniques such as server virtualisation and standardising hardware, IT professionals in our survey said they would expect their data centre to get simpler to manage (66 percent), to become more energy-efficient (48 percent) and that the data centre would require fewer staffing resources. However, the greatest concern regarding consolidation was that costs wouldn't be reduced and that they would instead shifted to other areas (44 percent). Respondents were also concerned that the skill set needed to manage consolidated data centres would actually expand (44 percent).

Our survey listed a number of statements regarding data centres and asked respondents to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with each. IT professionals most frequently agreed that the data centre is a critical underpinning of IT (77 percent), the data centre is a key internal asset for delivering technology and training staff (66 percent), their organisation has experienced problems cooling computing equipment in its data centre (46 percent) and that they would consider "point" cooling systems such as rack or row-level chillers or blower units to address hot spots (40 percent). Respondents most frequently disagreed that their data centre is an outsourced service with little intrinsic value (74 percent).


The Computerworld/CIO Magazine survey on data centre consolidation was administered online in April, 2006. Subscribers to CIOMagazine and Computerworld were invited to take the survey. Results are based on the responses of 389 IT professionals. (Not all respondents answered all questions.)

Forty-two percent of respondents were senior level IT or business heads, 19 percent were IT directors, and 28 percent listed IT manager when asked for their title. Ten percent listed "Other."

Industries most frequently reported by the survey base included: Manufacturing (computer & non-computer) (17 percent), Computer services (13 percent), Government (federal, state local) (13 percent), Education (12 percent) , Health/medical (11 percent) and Finance/banking/accounting (7 percent).

20 percent of the survey base reported that their companies employed fewer than 1,000 employees. 42 percent said they work at companies with 1,000 to 10,000 employees and 38 percent were from companies with more than 10,000 employees.

When asked about company revenue, 17 percent indicated annual company revenue of less than US$100 million. Thirty percent reported revenue between $100 million and $999.9 million. Fifty-two percent said their companies had revenues greater than $1 billion. (Numbers may not add to 100 percent due to rounding.)

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