Mainframes may seem like a relic from an earlier era of IT, like word processors or mobile devices that don’t make phone calls or link to the Internet. But according to a new survey from BMC Software, mainframe computing is alive and well, and mainframe services may prove a valuable area for MSPs serving the SMB market to explore.
The survey of 1,264 mainframe users from companies of all sizes indicates that 90 percent of respondents consider mainframe to be a long-term solution, and 50 percent agreed it will attract new workloads. However, not all is well is mainframe-land. For example, at least 75 percent of respondents experience staffing problems, in no small part due to many experts in this well-established IT field nearing or reaching retirement age. Almost four in 10 (39 percent) reported at least one unplanned mainframe outage. More than 55 percent reported they need to integrate the mainframe into enterprise IT systems comprised of multiple mainframe and distributed platforms. And 69 percent said keeping IT costs down is their top mainframe priority, up sharply from 60 percent just one year ago.
BMC Software’s admittedly self-serving recommendation (BMC specializes in providing mainframe solutions and support) is for mainframe users to use more “more automated, self-learning software.” However, this is actually pretty solid advice, especially for smaller organizations who cannot afford to bring in new employees or consultants, or possibly even to host an onsite mainframe. This is where MSPs come in.
Managed Mainframe Services Ideally Suit SMBsThe robustness and processing power of mainframes can provide a tremendous advantage to SMBs, who need all the automated help they can get to supplement the capabilities of typically overwhelmed small staffs. However, as mentioned above, hosting a mainframe is not a realistic option for many smaller enterprises, and even if they do host one, integration, operation and maintenance are formidable tasks. The fact that about 40 percent of mainframe users of all sizes report unplanned outages attests to this fact.
MSPs can take the difficulty out of mainframe operation for SMBs. That can include a complete hosting program or supplying the support services and specialized software needed on a managed basis. And MSPs who may be a little rusty on the ways of mainframes themselves can tap into the crop of newly retired experts, who may no longer want to work full-time but may find part-time consulting work a better option than Social Security. Big computers can offer big rewards to small companies, and MSPs can play a big role in making that happen.