Modernization and the Presence of Mainframes

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To understand the significant presence of mainframes, we must deep dive into how many lines of mainframe code really exist in the world. In the late 90s, there were several schools of thought that there were around 200 billion lines of COBOL code in around 10 Million applications with an investment of 5 trillion US dollars. Assuming that a million lines of new code could grow every year for the next few years (maintenance, bug fixes/compliance related changes), and another few (10-100) million lines of code being removed (after modernization), the equation would more or less remain the same and the maintainable code could still be in 100s of billions. Modernization is something that must happen at some point of time, and if they still exist as a backbone for many companies without being modernized in spite of many issues, we should realize why so. A few of the probable reasons why they still exist are listed:

  • Every year, mainframe systems:
    • Are responsible for transporting up to 72,000 shipping containers
    • Manage 75-85% of the world's business data
    • Handle data for 60+ million patients
    • Process 80% of point-of-sales transactions
    • Connect 500 million mobile phone users
  • CICS can handle more than 30 billion successful transactions each day worldwide
  • CICS programs process more than $1 trillion worth of business each week without any negative impact on the end customer
  • According to the survey conducted by Arcati in 2013, many of the responding organizations said they manage around 40-100% of their enterprise data on the mainframe
  • 96 of the world’s top 100 banks, 23 of the 25 top US retailers, and 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest insurance companies run IBM System Z architecture.
  • 71% of global Fortune 500 companies are System z clients.
  • 90% of the top global life and health insurance providers process their high-volume transactions on a System Z mainframe
    • Support millions of stock market trading, holiday bookings, supermarket data, money from the ATM etc.
  • According toITWorldCanada, the total value of the applications residing on mainframes today exceeds US$1 trillion. Most of that code was written over the past 40 years in COBOL.

The World of Mainframes

Life in the world of Mainframes.

Billing, printing, accounting, credit card processing, sales, bank accounts, invoicing, accounts payable, receivables, electronic fund transfer, telecommunication, waybills, purchase orders, order management, warehouse, inventory, pricing, insurance policy maintenance, online fulfillment of newspapers, journals, logistics and shipments, vehicle maintenance, schedule information etc. are still processed on mainframes. And,the list goes on. Each time we witness such huge data processing on legacy units, it brings up a basic question: Who maintains all this? While 80% of the Fortune 500 companies across various industries uses mainframe, who really maintains these applications?

More on the details of Mainframe developers and their role will be covered in my next post.

(Thanks to Vijay Sathyavardhan for graphical assistance)

Post Date: 3/9/2015

Vishwesh Bhat

About the author

 Vishwesh Bhat is a Solution Architect - Mainframes with more than 17 years’ experience. His primary focus areas include the analysis and research around the Application Modernization and methodologies. He is also a noted cartoonist and musician, and has composed music for Kaizen, Innovar, Kizuna, the NTTDATA company song, and the iPAD act series, as well as many other initiatives. He currently is based in Bangalore, India.

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