James Governor's Monkchips

Analysts as Bank Robbers: IBM Mainframe summit 2007

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I remember when there were about 20 of us that covered the mainframe. It wasn’t so long ago. A few outliers from Robert Frances Group, Sageza and the major firms kept their eye on the mainframe, working with IBM and its customers.

Something has changed and changed dramatically. There are about 200 people in here, probably 75 or so from IBM.

But Steve Mills, IBM Software Group general manager, just said half the room is here for the first time, with relation to the topic.

Why do you rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. Why do you come to a mainframe community event? Because that’s where the money is. Customers are investing heavily in System z, and analysts know it. So this is re-education time.

Mills claims System z was the fastest growing systems platform from a revenue perspective in the industry last year. I did not know that, but it doesn’t surprise me.

What’s happened? “The lines have crossed”, he says, meaning labour costs across the board continue to grow, while mainframe systems costs continue to fall.

What is the real cost of computing? Good question. One of the major issues for IBM is that the mainframe is too well costed. While other platforms turn issues into economic externalities.  But IBM keeps having this conversation.

Customer says the problem is we pay you $40m a year. IBM says ummm. no you don’t. Do the maths and the customer’s expenses are, say, half that. Accounting models haven’t changed in 30 years… then again, IBM’s new CFO services (expect more news on that next week), in competition with SAP, may well help to change that.

OK – Jim Stallings is up.


disclosure: IBM and SAP are customers.


  1. James – I remember when you covered IBM mainframe and Sun on IWeek UK. I can also remember thinking ‘Poor sod’ while I’m presiding over cool stuff like BI (motion discomfort bag at the ready.)

    I suspected at the time there was a bit of of give the (relative but kinda talented) cub the toughest beat to shut him up.

    Guess who has the last laugh? And BTW -good for you fella. You richly deserve your success.


  2. Cheers Dennis the irony of being called legacy boy doesn’t surprise me. I covered all the “uncool” stuff when i was a reporter. Everyone else always covered what was “hot”. Most of the firms and products that were cool really are now legacy meat. The technologies and products I covered are still going strong. Anyone for virtualisation – that boring mainframe technology?

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