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Updated by Charles Bystock on 05/08/2014

mainframe-cost-reduction_(1)Organizations for which millions of data transactions are just part of the normal business day continue to rely on mainframes as the cornerstone of their data center operations. But mainframe costs can get out of hand if you aren’t vigilant, and it’s virtually impossible to remain competitive any more without paring costs. It’s imperative to find opportunities for mainframe cost reduction.

There are a number of options you can consider to reduce costs and also improve performance. How those options stack up against one another as priorities depends on your company’s overall business goals as well as near-term IT requirements. Here are some ideas for implementing mainframe cost reduction.

Introduce more automation.

Automation has been helping businesses become more efficient and cost-efficient since the Industrial Revolution. Automation is modern technology at its finest. You can accomplish the mundane, repetitive tasks necessary to keep your data centers humming smoothly while allowing your humans to focus on using their IT skills and creativity for business planning, new product development, etc.

Innovation and invention are still things even the most amazing robots cannot do. That’s why increasing use of automation is one of the significant trends in mainframe cost reduction. And your IT department, of all places, should be focused on making optimum use of technology.  

Reduce MIPS.

Fine-tuning is an ongoing process, so never assume there isn’t some additional efficiency available, even if you’ve been pretty diligent thus far in looking for mainframe cost reduction opportunities.

Consider investing in mainframe management technology that can help reduce CPU/MIPS/MSU consumption. And mainframe monitoring tools that alert you when nearing capacity limits, so you can take steps to avert costly overages. Assess applications from a MIPS reduction point of view, with a goal of optimizing data center performance.

If you analyze System Management Facility data to understand your peak capacity usage and what you’re using that capacity for, you may find ways to re-schedule jobs to reduce those peak needs.

Investigate other specialized applications that can help with mainframe cost reduction.

Some applications now help reduce mainframe encryption costs – worth checking out because not all solutions require the same CPU usage. Common non-native encryption software used to protect mainframe data can be expensive, whereas some new options that are more efficient can free up CPU resources and also help you sidestep CPU processor upgrades. You save on both usage and infrastructure costs.

Naturally, you’ll want to investigate ways to reduce software costs, too, since they represent a hefty percentage of your mainframe expense. An inventory is in order. Ask yourself:

  • Do you really need this software? Are you using it and, if so, to what extent? Or is it leftover from some past need that isn’t currently important to your enterprise operations?
  • Do you have redundant or similar software that’s duplicating costs?
  • Is there something new available that’s better or cheaper? Before you answer that, be sure to consider the cost of migration to a new software.

Modernize your mainframes.

Putting the latest processors into play can enhance mainframe cost reduction and also lower software costs. Are you using the most efficient processors to reduce peak capacity needs? Tools are now available to auto-shift to zIIPs -- assuming you have zIIPs -- to maximize mainframe capacity. You might also consider migrating some workloads to other platforms where they can be accomplished less expensively.

The key to successful mainframe cost reduction is to look at your whole picture rather than simply stabbing at piecemeal cost-cutting measures. A strategic, holistic approach will enable you to identify which options represent the most cost-effective opportunities cost for your enterprise. Do those first.

Get professional help.

Consultants whose only interest is helping you find mainframe cost reduction opportunities most meaningful to your company will give you just the advice you need to lower transaction costs, shorten run times and save money without a dip in service or quality.