Who said the mainframe was dead? According to a new report from IDC, nearly half of all mainframe are set to increase their annual spending on mainframes.

That's music to the ear of IBM which, earlier this year announced falling revenue for its System Z mainframe and last month announced a new initiative to drum up sales by launching a new set of hardware, software and services combinations for specific application workloads.

According to IDC, a new breed of user has emerged, one read to adopt a hybrid approach to using the IBM mainframe. "Customers are finding that new workloads, including Linux-based and Java-based workloads, can leverage the mainframe's built-in security and high levels of availability, by running them on mainframe specialty processors, such as the IFL, zIIP and zAAP processors," said Jean S. Bozman, research vice president with IDC's Enterprise Platforms Group. "This pattern of adoption is placing software licensing costs on a lower price schedule for these new workloads than if they were running natively on the IBM System z hardware platform."

One of the main proponents of the idea of using IBM's speciality processors to reduce costs is Neon Enterprise Software whose zPrime product saves millions of dollars in processing costs. "One of customers estimates that its yearly savings are in the region of $20 million" said Neon CEO Lacy Edwards.

IDC said there were three key findings from the study:
• The mainframe has a long life expectancy ahead by combining its dominance in performing traditional high-volume workloads with support for "modern" workloads based on Linux, Java, and web applications.

• The addition of new application-specific processors to an exceptionally high-performing and green technology platform provides users with viable, if sometimes underappreciated, alternatives for hosting applications.

• The best indicator of mainframe viability is the usage trend for various classes of workloads and the resulting level of investments needed to support these workloads. To understand the future, it is important to know whether such workloads are on balance, growing or declining in usage,
The survey results seem to be indicate that, for the moment at least, IT managers continue to be happy with mainframe viability.

Survey respondents had traditional reasons for sticking with mainframes. The main reason was processing power with 56 percent opting for that as a reason for staying with mainframes, while 54 percent opted for system reliability/uptime characteristics and 42 chose security infrastructure as the key factors.