Tuesday, 17 December 2013 02:38

Mobile has big impact on the mainframe

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Mobile technology is increasing complexity, usage and costs of mainframe applications, with companies finding it more difficult to isolate and fix problems, according to newly published research.

According to research commissioned by technology performance vendor Compuware, and conducted by independent research company Vanson Bourne, nearly 90% of Australian CIOs say they are using outdated transaction monitoring practices that don’t provide visibility into how distributed and mainframe applications interact.

In addition, the survey found that IT staff are spending “needless time in ‘war rooms’ trying to resolve complex application issues they can’t see, increasing the likelihood that if problems persist, brand reputations -- and bottom lines -- suffer.”

“The survey results paint a picture of what IT departments have to cope with on a day-to-day basis,” said Kris Manery, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mainframe Solutions, Compuware.  

“The findings showed that more than half of customer-facing and business-critical applications are dependent on the mainframe. At the same time, 84% of CIOs felt distributed application developers are unaware of the impact they have on the mainframe environment.

“That is cause for concern as a poorly optimised application interacting with the mainframe will drive up MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) costs unnecessarily. Those costs could be drastically reduced if developers had visibility into how their code was impacting the mainframe.”

Compuware says the research also found that distributed applications are increasing mainframe usage, as well as increasing complexity and risk into the mainframe environment, also making it more difficult to manage.

According to Manery, developers unfamiliar with the mainframe are often not optimising code, “causing inefficiencies to creep through.”

“As a result, the computer power needed to deliver applications, or MIPS consumption, is escalating. In addition, IT teams are under more pressure to deliver high-performing applications, as slow-downs or failures directly impact revenue, brand and productivity.”

The Compuware survey also revealed other issues, including:

•    Over half (56%) of enterprise applications call upon the mainframe to complete transactions, yet the majority of distributed application developers today have limited understanding of the mainframe. Many Australian CIOs believe this lack of knowledge is leading to inefficient mainframe access

•    76% of Australian CIOs said mainframe workloads are increasing and becoming more varied. According to their estimates, distributed applications have produced a 51 percent increase in workload over the past five years

•    92% of Australian CIOs believe the complexity of enterprise applications is creating new risks in relation to mainframe application performance

•    88% said new customer-facing applications are accessing the mainframe. Consequently, performance expectations have increased, leading to mounting concerns about lost revenues (68%), loss of employee productivity (48%) and brand/reputation damage (52%)  

Compuware also says the survey showed that companies are still using outdated silo-focused methods to monitor performance and are often unaware there is a problem until it starts impacting users. “Yet added complexity is making it increasingly difficult to find and isolate the cause of issues, making problem resolution slower, despite added pressure from the business for technology to perform well, Manery said.

Manery said the survey addressed these new complexities and how they impact business, finding that:

•    88% of Australian CIOs think the added complexity of applications working across distributed and mainframe environments is making problem resolution take longer

•    88% of Australian CIOs are being pressured to reduce mean time to resolution on application performance problems

•    96% of Australian companies are still relying on aggregate data or averages to monitor performance of their IT

•    76%  have no visibility of the actual end-user experience and 68 percent of companies are often unaware of performance problems until calls start coming in to the help desk

•    16%of Australian CIOs say there is a war room situation in their organisation on a monthly basis; 36 percent having one at least once a week; and eight percent daily. On average, nine people are involved in these war rooms.

“New problems require new solutions,” said Manery.  “The interconnected nature of the enterprise application environment needs to be managed in an integrated way. If IT is constantly tied up trying to solve problems, it has a ripple effect across the business, delaying projects and holding back innovation.

“Over time this makes it harder for businesses to compete and companies lose their competitive edge. Yet by moving from a reactive to a proactive approach to identifying and rectifying performance issues before they turn into problems for end-users, companies can deliver time and resources back to the business to invest in more revenue-generating activities,” Manery concluded.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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