While the practice of simply pushing IT service providers for lower prices is reaching the point of diminishing returns, according to CIO.com’s story, IT outsourcing customers cling to cost-savings mindset, companies can still take strategic steps to improve their mainframe operations that also reduce costs.
Upgrade to the latest hardware
Faster, more powerful mainframes can drive cost savings as the newer features help drive down CPU usage. By reducing the size of the newer mainframe, software costs also can fall. It is best practice to assess the mainframe environment, identify areas to improve and then deploy standardized processes for upgrading. It's also essential to assess the impact of the latest releases of mainframe software on CPU usage. The potential for boosting efficiency with the newer releases of COBOL on new IBM mainframes is particularly intriguing.
Update operating system and other software
A managed services provider has both the staff and pricing power to cost-efficiently move clients to the latest software and install new releases for improved performance at less cost than individual companies can do alone. Operating many mainframes, IT service providers can reduce their clients’ IBM software spend by aggregating the licenses into a larger shared sysplex.
Retire or replace applications
Identifying software no longer in use can free up wasted CPU capacity while reducing spending as companies cancel contracts or decline to renew licenses. Another cost-saving measure is switching to lower-cost applications with similar functionality to those being replaced.
Reduce mainframe headcount
Four out of 10 companies have not put formal plans in place to address their mainframe staff shortage even as their most experienced platform professionals retire, according to a 2015 Compuware survey of 350 enterprise CIOs in 10 countries. By turning over support to mainframe service specialists, companies can ensure an ongoing deep bench of mainframe talent focused on their needs. Mainframe service providers have the economies of scale to develop training programs to replenish the mainframe technical ranks. With remote management services, companies can potentially slash their mainframe technical support costs in half.
Automate manual processes
With automation tools for everything from testing and workload tuning to ticketing, service providers can help enable companies to redeploy staff and save money. For example, instead of having a technician manually monitor the systems for critical messages, companies can automate the process by setting thresholds for when the system should automatically create tickets and escalate issues.
Improve DR and security
Many companies struggle to afford the equipment, separate physical location and staffing resources for replicating and successfully testing their critical applications. Budgets are tight, too, for necessary security measures and personnel to protect and monitor against intrusions and resolve any incidents. By teaming up with mainframe services experts, companies can acquire state-of-the-art security and disaster recovery/business continuity protection cheaper and often better than they could do on their own.
Shift from capital expenditures to operating expenditures
Rather than take limited investment dollars to upgrade mainframe equipment and software, companies can shift to a service provider that offers the affordable mainframe technology and best practices. A national energy service provider, for one, found that replacing its aging mainframe for managing customer information, including meter readings and billing, and for scheduling repair crews, was cost-prohibitive. So it moved these critical operations to Ensono so it could increase the mainframe workload and easily integrate other computer systems as it made acquisitions.