NEW DELHI: Approximately 590 CIOs and IT directors surveyed from nine countries around the globe estimate it would take an average of $11 million to bring their outdated mainframe applications up to date – an increase of almost a third (29 per cent) from May 2012 when the figure stood at $8.5 million.
That’s according to an independent global research study undertaken by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by Micro Focus.
Respondents also confirmed the IT debt problem will only get worse, anticipating an increase of 9 per cent over the next five years.
The modernization conundrum
On average, respondents expect their organizations to continue relying on mainframe applications for another ten years, with almost a third (32 per cent) believing it to be longer than this. Nevertheless, despite the perceived longevity of mainframe applications and mounting IT debt, the majority (81 per cent) find it difficult justifying the expense of maintaining core applications and only 10 per cent confirmed they are always successful in their justification.
As a result, 51 per cent of CIOs admit their business is exposed to compliance and risk issues, added the report.
Commenting on the research results, Derek Britton, director of product marketing at Micro Focus alleged that- “Core mainframe applications are often the lifeblood of the organization, yet the burden of IT debt is on the increase. A major factor in this is that many non-IT people think IT innovation only means brand new technology, rather than improving existing, critical applications. The IT leadership challenge is to find smart ways to blend innovation projects with protecting and evolving their critical systems.”
“Mainframes continue to endure a backbone platform for most business organizations globally, despite being legacy. There is momentous attention on delivering mainframe services to organizations by the Indian IT industry as the legacy systems play a core part in the daily operations of large corporations across the banking, finance, health care, insurance, utilities, aviation and government sectors,” states Nitin Dang, country general manager, Micro Focus India
IT skills gap intensifies the problem
Six out of seven (84 per cent) IT decision makers confirm that it is difficult to find staff or new recruits with mainframe application skills and predict that an average of 14 per cent of staff members currently responsible for maintaining mainframe applications will retire in the next five years.
That’s an increase from May 2012, when the estimate on retirees stood at 11 per cent. More than half (55 per cent) of CIOs highlight the impact of the problem, confirming that when new legislation or industry regulation requires compliance changes to be made to their mainframe applications, it is highly likely or certain that the original knowledge of the application and supporting data structure is no longer in the organization. To make matters worse, just about three quarters (73 per cent) say that their organization’s application documentation is incomplete.
CIOs challenge academia to do more
While almost a third of respondents (31 per cent) do not feel the government is doing enough to assist in addressing the general IT skills gap, the majority of CIOs (78 per cent) assign overall responsibility for addressing the issue to academia saying they do not believe academic institutions are doing enough.
A colossal 83 per cent of IT leaders believe it is valuable for students to learn mainframe programming languages such as COBOL and PL/I and more than nine in ten say these languages should be taught as part of the curriculum, whether core (44 per cent) or elective (46 per cent). The reality is that only 27 per cent of universities around the globe have COBOL as part of their core (18 per cent) or elective (9 per cent) curriculum.
- On average, 33 per cent of organizations’ mainframe applications are accessible on mobile devices and in two years’ time this number is expected to rise by 39 per cent
- 58 per cent of organizations have users who need access to mainframe applications through a mobile web browser, 49 per cent need access through an Android application, and 36 per cent need access through iPad/iPhone apps
- More than three quarters (76 per cent) of respondents say they find it difficult to develop mainframe applications for mobile devices and 84 per cent say that the mainframe is creating challenges that make it even more difficult to develop mobile apps
- On average, 35 per cent of current mainframe applications are accessible via the cloud. This figure is expected to rise to 42 per cent in two years’ time. 75 per cent say that it is difficult to develop mainframe applications for the cloud