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Dinosaurs or Cockroaches

I have been looking at the mainframe market (yes, those IT dinosaurs that were supposed to be finished in the 1990s). It turns out that plenty of the beasts are still around. Mainframes still host around 70% of the world’s business critical data. That means that even if you are using your bank’s web front-end, there is a good chance that one of the tiers in the application still resides on a mainframe.

Not only are mainframes alive and well, so is mainframe software. CICS, Cobol and so on – they are still in use at many, if not most, enterprise data centers – and they won’t being going away anytime soon. Q32008  IBM System z hardware revenues increased 25% year/ year, with double digit revenue growth in all geographies. MIPS (capacity shipped) grew by 49 percent. And thats just hardware. I couldn’t find any recent data on the mainframe eco-system-but here is a chart I found for the 2004 server market eco-system:

$50B – the market may have changed in the last four years – but I am guessing it is still an impressive number. Given the way this technology is quietly hanging around even with some many trying to kill the market – I think we should call mainframes cockroaches rather than dinosaurs.An added benefit – mainframes are actually a “greener” alternativs to using a plethora of open systems…

The new uses of these existing, legacy systems (e,g, Web Interfaces, SOA, RSS and ATOM feeds) is putting demands on the systems that they weren’t originally designed for. That along will the dwindling number of mainframe skills available – leads me to the key question of how is all this legacy infrastructure and applications going to be managed and maintained…

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