Mainframe – The elephant in the room

A survey of 590 Senior IT leaders across 8 regions on skills, IT backlog, compliance, outsourcing, delivering value and more. Enter the room for key highlights.

Skills

  • Retirement age is approaching for a large number of skilled COBOL developers
  • Skills may no longer be freely available to support mainframe modernization
  • The majority of organizations (56%) are choosing to rewrite or replace mainframe applications
  • However, organizations can extend the life of core applications using modern COBOL tools that cut time, cost and risk
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Where have all the mainframe skills gone? A total of 84% find them difficult to find – but there are interesting differences by country

Global

Impossible – the right skill sets just do not exist in the marketplace today

 

2%

Extremely difficult – demand significantly outweighs supply

 

15%

Very difficult – it is tough but possible

 

28%

Somewhat difficult – the skills exist but they are not abundant in the market place today

 

38%

Simple – there is no problem finding the right skills today

 

15%

I don't know

 

1%

Mainframe behaviour is changing – but not always in the best direction. Re-writing or tailoring packages is costly and time consuming

Global

We are re-writing strategic mainframe apps in more modern languages

 

2%

We are replacing key legacy mainframe applications with commercial off-the-shelf packages

 

15%

The mainframe is strategically important. We are having to look for ways to navigate around the mainframe

 

28%

We are increasing our reliance on outsourcing vendors for mainframe app development and testing

 

38%

We are using a software solution to modernise our mainframe applications

 

15%

I would rather we moved off the mainframe altogether in the future

 

1%

What happens in 5 years? Retirement’s approaching fast for key IT staff

Global

Average percentage of current IT staff to retire in next five years 13.84%

  • None
  • 1-10%
  • 10-15%
  • 15-25%
  • More than 25%

IT ‘DEBT’

  • 41% of those researched could not put a monetary value on their IT debt
  • Isolating and planning backlog-busting projects improves timescales and reduces cost
  • New application knowledge technology, and smarter tools for making application changes, are vital
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It’s a cost, but for many it’s a hidden one. And it’s more hidden in certain countries – sometimes by over 60%

Global

  • Yes
  • No

IT debt continues to grow, and it needs accounted for. That growth also differs depending on the size of your organization

Global

0%

 

2%

1-5%

 

15%

5-10%

 

28%

10-15%

 

38%

15-20%

 

15%

More than 20%

 

1%

Don't know

 

1%

Average IT debt growth over the next five years 13.84%

Clearing the IT backlog is going to cost $millions. It’s time to deliver value faster with backlog-busting projects

Global

Less than $5m

 

15%

$5-10m

 

40%

$10-20m

 

29%

More than $20m

 

1%

Don't know

 

14%

Average IT debt associated with enterprise applications $10.97

MOBILE & CLOUD

  • Core applications need to be available 24/7 for operational flexibility
  • But accessing mainframe applications through different devices is a difficult challenge for 75% of respondents
  • Protecting existing investments and optimizing what you have is essential
  • A modern development environment preserves existing COBOL logic yet opens it up to business change requirements
  • Innovation can’t be held back – but plans must be executed with the right balance of speed, flexibility and risk
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It’s difficult to develop for the cloud if you choose a difficult path. Of those who find it very difficult there’s a huge swing by industry too – of between 4–37%

Global

Impossible

 

2%

Extremely difficult

 

9%

Very difficult

 

27%

Somewhat difficult

 

37%

Simple

 

18%

I don't know

 

7%

It’s a similar story in mobile. The UK and Singapore come top in finding development very difficult

Global

Impossible

 

3%

Extremely difficult

 

13%

Very difficult

 

24%

Somewhat difficult

 

37%

Simple

 

17%

I don't know

 

7%

The time to innovate in mobile is now, but two years on the figures are gloomy. Of those who predict 75-99% mobile accessibility there’s a huge variance of 0–32% by country

Global

Average % of mainframe applications accessible on mobile devices in 2 years 38.76%

  • 0% of mainframe applications
  • 1-25%
  • 25-50%
  • 50-75%
  • 75-99%
  • 100% of mainframe applications

COMPLIANCE

  • Compliance-related fines are growing at an unprecedented scale
  • Organizations must cope with non-negotiable, fixed deadlines to existing IT workloads caused by governance, risk and compliance projects
  • The focus must be on on finding the root of the non-compliance, fixing the issue, and then validating the change
  • Lack of application knowledge and documentation, cited by the majority of respondents, must be overcome by leveraging the latest technology
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You can’t modernize without first understanding your application portfolio. And the issue’s far more challenging in certain industries. Using the latest tools can realign your portfolio with business goals

Global

100% certain the original knowledge will no longer be in our organisation

 

14%

Highly likely the original knowledge is no longer in our organisation

 

41%

A small percentage of our staff will have original knowledge of the code

 

31%

Several team members will have original knowledge of the code

 

12%

Don't know

 

2%

Compliance is a bigger issue than you might believe. 63% believe compliance risks will happen if they’re not proactive

Global

Our business is exposed to compliance/risk issues

 

63%

The resilience of our mainframe is put at risk

 

47%

Our competitive positioning is eroded by being unable to develop or innovate

 

42%

*Other (please specify)

 

1%

This never happens as we always justify the cost of maintaining mainframe legacy applications

 

10%

The problems of compliance don’t stop when projects are outsourced. In many counties that means half or more of the work that’s outsourced

Global

Average percentage of outsourced development and testing work associated with compliance changes 39.05%

  • 0% - it's all done in-house
  • 1-25%
  • 25-50%
  • 50-75%
  • 75-99%
  • 100% - it's entirely outsourced

OUTSOURCING

  • Organisations who outsource application development and testing are seeing compliance issues increase their costs
  • The majority of respondents seem to be accept cost increases as a fact of life
  • Dedicated tools can improve transparency and change control, empowering provider and customer alike
  • These can not only achieve the goal of cutting costs, but also help to deliver innovation to the business
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Development outsourcing peaks at over 58% in one country and testing outsourcing is over 66% in another. Such high volumes require excellent transparency and control

Global

Development

 

37.70%

Testing

 

37.04%

Cost doesn’t prohibit outsourcing, but these extra costs seems to be accepted, despite there being ways to improve transparency and cost control

Global

It is simpler to outsource the job

 

63%

Having the outsourcing partner take the compliance risk outweighs the cost implications

 

47%

We lack the capability to do this in-house

 

42%

Everything is outsourced already, so we see this work as part of the maintenance workload

 

1%

Issues such as compliance are costly to the business, unless they’re managed well

Global

  • Yes – greatly
  • Yes – somewhat
  • No change

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Mainframe: The elephant in the room

Read more details and commentary on this research in a free White Paper: The State of Enterprise IT:
Re-examining Attitudes to Core IT Systems

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