As someone that spent the late 90s being called “legacy boy” by cooler colleagues covering dotcon stuff, i know the zSeries market pretty well. RedMonk has published on the current mainframe resurgence and its always nice to see some more data points emerge to support a thesis.
The latest is perhaps not a major industry win but still worth noting – one of IBM’s Swiss customers just decided to consolidate R/3 onto a mainframe, and finally upgrade from its SAP R/2 systems. Step forward Endress + Hauser (International) Holding, a supplier of instruments for the process engineering industry.
R/2 was always a mainframe platform, and many shops still run it. Old apps after all don’t die, they just go into maintenance mode. But R/3 was originally touted for the post-mainframe era. So what is going on? Well, what goes around comes around. We keep talking to shops running SAP on mainframes. And shops running Linux on mainframes. But what marks this win out is an end to end commitment to SAP on Linux. All R/3 functions are going to run on Linux on the frame. That is pretty serious.
Irony is that when i first saw the story on a news site, right above it was an ad from Microsoft calling out how it was dramatically cheaper than a mainframe. One of the Microsoft “get the facts” ads. Well, Swiss process engineering companies know all about facts. Unlike many other geographies they really do make decisions based on technical merit rather than vendor matrketing. Middle European engineering is run by engineers’ engineers. You probably get the point. Suffice to say these folks obviously have strong mainframe skills, understand virtualization and workload management, and want a bullet proof platfrom to run SAP. zSeries is just the thing.
Microsoft would be appropriate for a Microsoft shop. But for a company like E+H the choice was obvious. Technology purchasing doesn’t happen in isolation. Smart technical decisions are made according to context rather than speeds and feeds and ticklists. Existing skills matter. Comfort factors matter. Culture matters. That is why z is in the good shape.