And with 59 per cent of respondents to a new survey saying they expected mainframes to attract new workloads in the future and only three per cent saying they are considering exiting the mainframe space and using alternative platforms, it looks like the actual number of machines might have reached a plateau.
Releasing the 7th mainframe survey, James Russell, vice president of sales of mainframe service management for BMC Software, said that mainframes remained a very valid market, especially for organisations seeking systems able to handle large volumes of data, high transaction rates, high security and integrity.
BMC said that there were a steady 43 organisations operating mainframes in Australia, supporting 61 customers. (In some cases the organisation running the machine will be the same as the customer – but in some cases outsourcers will run mainframes on behalf of several customers sharing access to the systems).
Mainframe computing isn’t for the financially faint hearted though – to run a 15,000-20,000 Mip machine would typically cost $2,000 to $5,000 per Mip per year just in terms of platform costs. On top of that is all the applications, system software and staffing.
For the banks mainframes may be a big ticket item – but they are indispensible in terms of their ability to handle large transaction volumes reliably.
“The most unstable layer is the application itself,” he said. Westpac has been working intensively on its mainframe applications portfolio, including consolidating the mortgage processing systems of St George and Westpac, and launching a new system for its tellers.
In addition Mr Bowden said that nine of Westpac’s 15 SIPs (Strategic Investment Programmes) would run at least in part on the mainframes.