Mainframes’ relevance in the digital economy

The Singapore government recently released the Committee On the Future Economy (CFE) report with the vision for its people to be pioneers of the next generation. As stated in the CFE report, digitalisation is creating new industries and transforming existing industries. Indeed, the growth in digital business has created an enormous increase in analytics and transactions with unpredictable traffic patterns – increasing costs and staffing needs. While consumers are contributing to the increase in data and transactions through mobile apps on everything from making purchases, ordering services, getting information, comparing prices, researching options, checking social media, business users are leveraging modern, mobile apps to service customers instantly, requiring high-performing, always-available applications.

In BMC Software’s 11th annual Mainframe Research Report, the industry’s largest mainframe survey with more than 1,200 executives’ and technical professionals’ perspectives included, results indicated that mainframes are a critical core IT platform supporting the volume and velocity of data and transactions being created by digital business. The study showed three compelling ways in which mainframes play a key role in the digital economy of today and the future.

Mainframes help businesses scale

As a company grows in employees, customers, and business partners, it usually needs to add computing resources to support business growth. Companies that are doing well in the digital economy need a superior platform to   handle this increase in transaction and data growth. According to the report, 70 percent of respondents from large companies anticipate growing their capacity needs in the next 24 months. The mainframe is viewed as a highly available engine with a superior data server environment. It allows businesses to add capacity and workloads, modernize to ensure a superior customer experience, and ensure a highly available IT environment for serving customers

Mainframes help businesses to securely manage and control data

Each time a person hits the “buy” button on a shopping application, it triggers a series of processes behind the scenes involving credit card approvals, inventory and billing systems. This involves a lot of customer credit data, accounting data, confidential information, and passwords, potentially exposing users to a wide variety of dangerous cybercrime. This data needs to be securely managed and controlled, and, simultaneously, made available to those users authorized to see it.  According to the report, 55 percent of the respondents viewed the mainframe as good investment because of the strong security and availability benefits. While most mainframes are encrypted, in order to fully secure all the sensitive data under the businesses’ control, leaders must know where it is. Without knowing where sensitive data resides, businesses cannot protect nor locate and categorize this data. Having a mainframe that allows full visibility of where data resides enables digital businesses to handle the load with maximum security, availability, and performance.

Mainframes help businesses reduce costs

According to Frank Cortell, director of Information Technology, Credit Suisse, IT departments are moving toward centralized, virtualized, and highly automated environments.

BMC Software has observed the same – businesses are trying to drive cost down and increase processing efficiencies. In an attempt to reduce costs, increase productivity, and respond faster to the needs of the business, organizations have turned to Java, for example, as the computing language of choice because firstly, it is driven by a mainframe modernization strategy, secondly, Java applications can be developed and deployed more quickly and more importantly, Java applications costs less because they can run on lower-cost specialty engines (zIIPs and zAAPs)– reducing more expensive general processor CPU cycles. BMC Software found that 88 percent of companies who are increasing their use in mainframe are increasing their use of Java in production or development environments. Having a view of the entire mainframe environment, including Java, allows businesses to quickly and efficiently find and fix infrastructure issues, monitor resource usage and zIIP offloading to ensure performance of all applications and maximize cost savings.


Unbeknownst to many, the first mainframe in world was designed to serve Cold War clients like the US Department of Defense. Decades on, the mainframe has found new purpose as a tool for growth. In a time of business volatility and unpredictability, investing in technologies like the mainframe with an eye for the future is the prudent thing to do.

Darric Hor, ASEAN Regional Director, BMC Software