Jiving with Java 1: IT Says Java on z is on the Rise


The perennial refrain of “the mainframe is dead” couldn’t be further from the truth, as confirmed by the BMC 2016 Annual Mainframe Research of over 1200 mainframe professionals.  Approximately 90% of respondents said the mainframe is a viable platform for the future (have said so for the last 11 years).  In fact, Java on z has helped put the mainframe right at the front line of digital business.

Growth from a Surprising Source

81% of survey respondents projected mainframe MIPS capacity as steady or growing. But what is surprising to many is that nearly one-half of the survey respondents (47%) say the mainframe will grow and attract new workloads.  Say what?  Existing mainframe applications that are critical to the business will continue to run on the platform. But will new applications really be written for the mainframe?  The reality is that mainframe application developers are retiring, and the new generation of IT professionals are not embracing those legacy technologies.  There are billions of lines of code that need shepherding.  How can new applications be created in this environment?

Earlier this year, I visited with a client and had an opportunity to spend time with their technical team. Some members of the group are part of the new generation workforce (read “young”).  During a discussion about their mainframes I asked about their use of Java on z.  With a somewhat sheepish grin, more than one of the new generation technicians explained that they needed to consolidate some data and create reports, so they just wrote a quick Java program to do it.  Java’s familiarity among the new mainframe workforce is one of the factors driving enthusiasm about new workloads on the mainframe.

Java on z Is Strong and Growing

Again looking at the data from the BMC survey, a whopping three quarters of respondents (72%) indicated they are running Java on z (figure 1).  Fifty percent are running Java on z in production.

Java has been on the mainframe for over a decade, but there has been a substantial increase in its use.  In the survey, two-thirds said Java usage has increased in the past two years; and one-third said Java usage has increased by ten percent or more.  Amazingly – over one-half said that more than 10% of their mainframe applications are written in Java.

When asked what was driving Java growth, two-thirds cited new applications in Java as one of the drivers.  This may be part of the reason, as noted earlier, that so many respondents see mainframe growth being driven by new applications.

The survey results paint a clear picture of a growing mainframe, and of Java as a key contributor. This brings up three questions:

  1. Why are organizations adopting Java on z?
  2. What is impact of Java on mainframe systems management?
  3. What are best practices for success with Java on z?

These are topics I will explore in future blogs.


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