Blog 09 Sep 2020

Does your mainframe cost as much as you think?

Written by: Roger Tunnard

Mainframe computing has been around since the 50s, but over the decades the technology has consistently grown, adapted and evolved to meet the needs of businesses.

Today, the mainframe has transformed to become an important part of the data centre for any business that handles significant transaction volumes. Banks, insurers, and global enterprises alike rely on modern mainframes for their ability to scale, guarantee transactions, and keep customer data secure.

Yet, for all the advancements, mainframes have seen over the years, one thing hasn’t changed: the perception that mainframes cost more over time than Windows or Linux servers. But is this really the case? And even if it is, does it have to be this way?

In this blog, we’ll look at how to optimise mainframe licensing costs, while still benefitting from the scalability, security and robustness mainframe technology can offer.

Where does the cost come from?

The costs associated with mainframe technology generally boil down to three areas:

  1. Upfront hardware costs
  2. Staff and maintenance costs
  3. Ongoing software and licensing

Some of these prices are fixed and can’t be meaningfully reduced without forgoing crucial hardware or maintenance.

For instance, there will always be an upfront cost when buying hardware; whether it’s mainframe or server technology. And while individual mainframe units often cost more than their Linux or Windows server counterparts, the power and density of mainframe processing means a single mainframe can handle workloads that might require many conventional servers. As a result, while your upfront cost seems higher per item with mainframe, your overall costs won’t be wildly different compared to using conventional servers.

Similarly, as fewer technical staff train in mainframe and we see skill shortages, the cost of maintenance inevitably goes up. There are few ways to workaround this without compromising maintenance quality or frequency.

However, much of your mainframe total cost of ownership will come down to software costs and licensing payments.These are two areas where businesses can immediately find savings – without impacting mainframe functionality.

The price of un-optimised software

Whether your mainframe software comes from Broadcom, BMC or IBM, there are many situations where you won’t be getting the most for your money.

Especially for businesses that have purchased mainframe software bundles, there’s a chance that applications overlap, leaving parts of your software portfolio redundant. There are also times where we see customers underusing applications, but still paying the full licensing fee.

Get informed and cut your costs

The first step to cutting these costs is to know exactly what mainframe software you have, how you’re using it, and how much it’s costing your organisation.

Some of this may involve manually investigating what software is installed, andwhich applications are used across your business. Other cases may require using custom code to analyse exactly what workloads your mainframe processes, and how you can rationalise your software portfolio.

Once you know exactly what software your mainframe setup is using (or not), you can start to make more informed licensing decisions – and reduce your mainframe TCO.

For instance, knowing you’re underusing certain software packages could be the leverage you need to renegotiate licensing terms with your supplier. And seeing overlap across your software could help you rationalise your portfolio and avoid paying forlicensing, support,and renewal costson software you aren’t using.

The benefits of a third-party perspective

While you might consider conducting a mainframe software analysis yourself, we always urge our customers to consider leaving the investigation to a third party. A trusted mainframe partner can bring a fresh perspective to your data centre, and objectively examine what you’re using, and what you can do without.

It’s important to bring a mainframe expert in as part of this process, as they’ll be able to truly understand the ins and outs of your environments and software. However, while it’s tempting to bring in a dedicated mainframe provider, there are benefits to partnering with a vendor that’s experienced in mainframe and other technologies.

In many instances, you can cut licensing costs on the mainframe itself. But from our experience of performing cost optimisation analyses with customers, we find there can be even more savings for those willing to move certain workloads and software from the mainframe to conventional servers.

Your impartial mainframe advisor

Ignite Technology is a tier 1 Broadcom partner and a provider of IT consultancy and services covering mainframe technologies – and beyond.

We offer a mainframe cost analysis service to help businesses like yours understand how they can reduce their mainframe costs, rationalise software licenses and, in some cases, find more cost-effective alternatives for key workloads.

Speak to one of our mainframe experts to find out how we can help reduce your ongoing mainframe licensing costs.

Want to see how we can help you?
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