Mainframe Is Still Cheaper: Cost Analysis of the Infrastructure

Working with various companies over the years I’ve found that mainframe customers usually have figures on the zOS mainframe utilization and DB2 performance statistics from their DB2 database environments.  I am always amazed when working with DB2 LUW customers that these companies only create historical utilization and performance figures for the UNIX or Windows environments when they are encountering problems.  I would love to hear from DB2 LUW users that create and save this performance information over time to compare notes.

I recently came across an interesting report that compared the revenue economics of companies and their technology infrastructure from, The Surprising Technology Economics of Mainframe vs. Distributed Servers.  The report reviewed the cross factors of industry type and looked at the total MIPS per revenue and the number of physical servers within the various organizations.  This analysis points to the amount of computing power per revenue and showed that the smaller companies used more computing power per revenue.  As the company revenue increases more efficiencies are accomplished and they exhibit better computing to revenue ratios.

The report goes deeper, analyzing the total infrastructure costs and whether the companies mostly used distributed servers or mainframe based computing.  Within this analysis the numbers show a clear correlation between lower costs and more profits for companies that use predominately mainframes for their infrastructure.  The cost savings is theorized to come through smaller administration and management staffs, better space power and cooling efficiencies.

These cost savings figures are further reinforced by coming to the same conclusion that the mainframe is cheaper for every size company within all the different business categories.  Looking at the costs for distributed servers and mainframe computing infrastructures and the averages shows a 29% savings of mainframe environments vs. distributed environments. The mainframe is cheaper by almost a third.  The report goes on to detail the possible savings in the insurance, telecommunication, banking and consumer products and retail industries driven through the cheaper mainframe processing.

Seeing the client server and now cloud computing fads take over the discussion it seems these architectures still need to look to the mainframe for cost direction.  The mainframe is cheaper, more reliable and provides DB2 performance at a lower cost, even if it isn’t the most talked about platform.


Dave Beulke is an internationally recognized DB2 consultant, DB2 trainer and education instructor.  Dave helps his clients improve their strategic direction, dramatically improve DB2 performance and reduce their CPU demand saving millions in their systems, databases and application areas within their mainframe, UNIX and Windows environments.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>