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Mainframes turn agents of change

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It's an age of innovation - driven by numerous technology trends including cloud computing, big data and mobility - and the mainframe is being viewed as an agent of change in this increasingly complex and agile technology world.

So said Michael Zinda, senior VP for CA Technologies' mainframe solutions centre, yesterday, speaking during the CA IT Management Symposium 2014 at Vodacom World in Midrand.

In his presentation titled, "Evolving role of the mainframe in the dynamic data centre of the future", Zinda noted that the mainframe will be here in 2023 and beyond, but will it be a part of the dynamic data centre.

He said contrary to the prophesy of doom which started in the 1990s that the mainframe would die, the platform is still very relevant in today's enterprise, as the majority of them are still running at least 50% of their critical applications on mainframes.

Zinda also pointed out that mainframes are still relevant, as a recent survey discovered that 80% of IT executives say consumerisation is increasing IT workloads; and 58% of organisations view the mainframe as critical to their cloud strategy; while 44% of organisations are currently or have plans to enable mobile management of the mainframe.

He also pointed out that though high smartphone penetration is still only in the developed world, it will be exploding in the emerging world very soon; and 80% of IT decision-makers globally confirm the mainframe as a highly strategic part of their IT plans.

According to Zinda, consumerisation of IT is driving unprecedented change in the data centre environment, making the mainframe even more desirable. "Consumerisation and SaaS have effectively increased IT complexity and cost," he noted.

"Some 20% of lines of business have a dedicated IT staff; SaaS revenue will reach $40.5 billion by 2014; and 35% of total IT spend will occur outside IT by 2015," he revealed.

He pointed to open source, social networking, mobile computing, miniaturisation and wearable computing as the main drivers of this change.

"Open source makes cheap and rapid development possible," Zinda said. "Social networking has defined new operational paradigms resulting in new routes to market and tonnes of data to be mined. Mobile has consumerised compute power and changed expectations of app functionality - transactions that were unthinkable before are commonplace now. Miniaturisation makes disposable technology possible, fuelling ever more rapid change. Wearable computing alters the human-computer interface.

"These trends build on, and feed on, each other. Previously, organisations used to have five-year plans for their IT departments but now that is impossible thanks to the rate of change that the industry is going through," he explained.

Zinda also noted that by the end of 2014, each knowledge worker will have 3.3 connected devices of which there will be at least 41 apps per device. By 2020, he continued, there will be 20 billion connected "things".

"In the next few years, the number of connected devices will exceed the world population. Big data is alive and well, getting insight into consumers and behaviours," he said.

He also noted that the rapid decline in the cost of computing is making big data and analytics accessible to many more customers.

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