How Mainframes Save OpEx Through Real Estate, Humans, and Energy Costs

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How Mainframes Save OpEx Through Real Estate, Humans, and Energy Costs

Can mainframes enable DevOps and reduce costs for operations? Learn about their unexpected benefits.

· Performance Zone ·
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In recent years, mainframes have been viewed as most useful for heavy-lifting within organizations like the Census Bureau or analytics companies which require a lot of data storage, monitoring and retrieval. But times are changing as more enterprise business leaders recognize that having a mainframe instead of a network of smaller machines offers some unique cost reduction benefits over other industry-leading solutions. In fact, mainframes have the potential to reduce OpEx in the following areas: real estate, human capital and energy.

Given the cost reduction that mainframes can offer to businesses today, demand for this monolith of technology is on the rise. Keep reading to find out whether investing in a mainframe is right for your enterprise business requirements.

Traditional Usage and Benefits of a Mainframe

Mainframes are second to none when it comes to processing power. No network of virtualized machines comes close. Today, mainframes can handle a high number of I/O processes and hold exponentially more data than a single PC. This makes them especially useful for large enterprise businesses that require complex computing processes.

Benefits of a Mainframe

In addition to I/O processing and data storage, using mainframes versus other technology has a number of serious benefits to enterprise businesses. Mainframes are known for the following features:

Very Secure

Since most traditional mainframe consumers require that sensitive data is protected, mainframes are built with security in mind. This includes both operating system security and secure hardware.

Wholly Customizable

In most cases, mainframes are wholly customizable to meet the processing needs and work demands of the individual users.


To say that mainframes are reliable would be an understatement. In fact, some are designed to run continuously for as long as 40 years without failure.

Highly Available

Mainframes can be designed to have 99.999% availability.

Easily Scalable

By design, mainframes scale with relative ease. They are designed for plug-and-play system hardware upgrades. Furthermore, new parts of the mainframe can be added and adjusted without interrupting system usage.

Quite Redundant

One of the most important features of mainframes is the potential for redundancy. This is vital for those seeking data housing. And it makes for a smooth disaster recovery process for any enterprise business.

How Are Mainframes Used in Enterprises?

Because of the above benefits, mainframes have traditionally been used for storing critical applications and bulk processing of large amounts of important data.

As opposed to networks of computers that can run on a number of operating systems, traditional mainframes run on a single operating system and operations generally stem from a central processing unit within it that powers all the processes attached to it.

In fact, this is exactly how the machine got its name.

However, modern mainframes are no longer characterized by centralization in the same way traditional machines once were. They are instead designed with redundancy, backwards compatibility and I/O efficiency in mind.

These are the driving characteristics behind modern mainframe design. And because of these characteristics, mainframes evolved into a system where technicians can seamlessly add or swap components without interrupting day-to day-functionality.

The result is business agility and hopefully cost savings.

But it’s not just these traditional qualities of mainframe usage that makes them a good candidate for enterprise servers, storage and processing as you will learn below.

Mainframes and the Introduction of Linux

A monumental breakthrough in mainframe technology came back in 1999 when Linux developed a mainframe compatible operating system.

Linux offered a departure from traditional z/ operating systems. The benefit of Linux is that it’s highly flexible for a number of workloads. You get the full advantage of using Linux OS offerings, including:

  • Simultaneous access to multiple functions of the hardware; and
  • The potential for cloud computing

This makes it a flexible and scalable solution for enterprise businesses.

Unique Cost Reduction Benefits

At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that a few unique benefits really stand out when it comes to making the switch to mainframes with regards to cost reduction. With Linux powering enterprise mainframes, using them can save businesses money in three exceptional ways:

Real Estate Cost Reduction

When you run operations on a network of computers virtualized with software, this scalable model starts to take up a considerable amount of physical space.

This can create an urgent need for a bigger office space that can accommodate a server room. Or it may require expansion to a data center.

However, a signature feature of mainframes is that they scale up instead of out. Indeed, the truth is that one mainframe the size of a commercial refrigerator can accommodate the processing capabilities of thousands of computers. This could mean eliminating entire rooms of hardware in favor of one powerful piece of technology.

Considering that real estate expenses for large businesses tend to be high to begin with, downsizing your infrastructure to a mainframe can offer significant real estate cost savings.

Human Capital Cost Reduction

When you migrate dozens of servers to a mainframe, that’s when you really begin to notice the financial benefit has to offer.

It takes only a small internal IT team of a few people to manage a mainframe and the servers on it. That means you can save money that would otherwise be invested in additional labor to network, secure, monitor and maintain several more machines.

Furthermore, when you start collapsing thousands of servers into one mainframe, the cost savings on labor can be enormous.

Considering salaries for IT managers cost businesses around $135,000 a year, reducing the number of people on an IT workforce can offer a way for businesses to greatly reduce operating expense.

Energy Cost Reduction

Simplifying your system’s infrastructure inevitably leads to cost savings. Whether you are consolidating 45 machines or 4,500, one major benefit is reducing your carbon footprint and saving your business money in the process.

It’s more energy efficient to run your processes out of one mainframe than dozens of computers. But this is not the only way to reduce energy costs with a switch to mainframes. You also save energy when you reduce the amount of real estate required to house dozens of smaller machines. In some cases, that’s a whole building that you no longer need to pay utilities for.

If you’ve been looking for ways to save money and go green, a mainframe can help with this process.

Summary: Reduce OpEx With Mainframes

An old piece of tech is making a comeback in a major way. Once thought as being close to obsolete, mainframes are here to stay. They are scalable, reliable, available and offer competitive cost savings across peripheral budget categories that often go overlooked when we talk about reducing technology costs.

It’s true mainframes are an expensive piece of equipment. But once owned, they offer businesses agility and flexibility. This includes the ability to host a multi-cloud environment off private servers, with little management.

The overall cost savings from big ticket items like real estate, human capital and energy can make up for the cost of a mainframe if the processing of networked computers can be consolidated. And, with Linux capabilities, mainframes are more useful than once thought because they offer increased functionality in a vertical unit, an important benefit for enterprise businesses.

it, linux, mainframe, operations, performance

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