The mainframe is important, but CIOs are doing little to protect it

There is a profound disconnect between the continued importance of the mainframe to the business, and the actions CIOs are taking to protect their investments in the platform, a new survey has shown.

Software company Compuware Corporation today released the findings from a survey of 350 CIOs regarding the use and management of mainframe hardware and software in the enterprise.

CIOs see the mainframe playing a central role in the future of the digital enterprise, as 88 per cent agreed that it will continue to be a key business asset over the next decade, and 81 per cent reported that their mainframes continue to evolve—running more new and different workloads than they did five years ago.

Survey respondents cited the advantages of the mainframe in processing Big Data.

The overwhelming majority of respondents also see mainframe code as valuable corporate intellectual property (89 per cent) and see the mainframe as a key enabler of innovation (78 per cent).

CIOs also see it as superior to other platforms from a cost/benefit perspective, with 70 per cent reported that they have been surprised by how much additional work and money is required to ensure new platforms and applications match the security provided by the mainframe.

Despite the central role the mainframe continues to play in the digital enterprise, the survey reveals that inadequate investment in the mainframe is putting companies at risk in multiple ways.

While 75 per cent of CIOs recognize that distributed application developers have little understanding of the mainframe and 70 per cent are concerned that a lack of documentation will hinder knowledge transfer and create risk, 4 out of 10 have not put formal plans in place to address the coming generational shift in mainframe stewardship—as their most experienced platform professionals retire.

The advancement of mainframe applications ranked lowest on the survey when it came to allocation of human resources on the mainframe—despite the fact that respondents claimed to value those applications as key corporate IP.

The survey also revealed that the mainframe remains “siloed” from the rest of IT, even though CIOs also recognize the increasing importance of utilizing the mainframe in concert with other enterprise IT resources.