Not everyone sees the mainframe as a relic of the past. In 1996, motor manufacturer Baldor Electric, beguiled by promises of lower costs and the desire to move to the SAP platform for all its CRM and ERP transactions, left the mainframe in favour of a Windows environment. According to Mark Shackelford, Baldor's IS director, the company was very unhappy with the results.
To serve Baldors 50 offices, the company needed a capacity of about 1,300 MIPS, which would have meant hundreds of Windows servers. The pilot Windows system was not reliable at that scale, so Baldor moved to RISC-based Unix servers. That helped, but it still didnt deliver the mainframes reliability.
IT costs began to rise, Shackelford says, jumping from one per cent of sales to 1.7 percent and was on track to hit two per cent.
So this past year, Baldor dumped its Windows and Unix servers, consolidating everything onto one IBM zSeries 990 mainframe with 24 Linux and z/OS partitions. Shackelford says IT costs have gone back to one per cent of sales, and backup windows that took seven hours under the distributed system now take seven minutes.
Shackelford says IBMs high discount on SAP transaction processing plays a huge role in keeping his overall costs down. He says he pays about 15 percent of the cost of more traditional CICS and IMS applications, and acknowledges that he might have pursued a different strategy without the discount.
California's Employment Development Department (EDD), which handles unemployment claims and job training, also explored migrating away from the mainframe. EDD deputy IT director Dale Jablonsky, however, says migrating its thousands of applications and systems would have cost the agency $2 billion and taken 20 or more years. The agencys TCO (total cost of ownership) analysis showed that mainframe systems are typically no more -- and sometimes less -- expensive than the distributed systems that can handle EDDs scale of processing. The agency processes roughly five million transactions each day, not counting a ton of queries on DB2, Jablonsky says.
Still, EDD is modernising its mainframe systems; deploying Web services and Attachmate WRQ software to simplify the interface for its 7,000 users; migrating some applications off the mainframe that arent part of the core transaction system; and off-loading some databases to eight-way Unix data servers on a SAN. Jablonsky says mainframes and distributed servers all have their place in his environment, based on their relative strengths and costs.
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