Research: More companies turning to mainframes for blockchain initiatives

New research suggests mainframe technology is a key part of many business’ blockchain plans 

Go by the standard cliché, and mainframe technology is legacy and for the past, whilst blockchain is cutting edge and the future. Never the twain shall meet. But the reality is very different, with fresh research revealing that the two are crossing over more and more. In fact, a hybrid approach is a trend that’s set to continue for some time to come.

Forrester Consulting undertook said research, which was commissioned by hybrid IT services firm Ensono and global information experts Wipro Limited. 153 IT decision makers of director level and higher were questioned across America and Europe, and the results suggested a union of traditional and emerging technologies.

A quarter of firms questioned are using mainframe installations to help in the emergence of new technology innovations. Thus, on the one hand, legacy applications are running on mainframes as always. But also containerised microservices, mobile applications and blockchain projects are running on them too.

This hybrid approach is seeing a growing number of firms using a mainframe for business-critical and on-premises applications, such as finance, human resources and enterprise content management, whilst moving other services to cloud hosting. What’s surprising therefore is that the mainframe is being seen as a pertinent technology for the likes of blockchain, although its strong security and parallelization features are clearly compelling and perhaps make that less of a surprise.

Ensono’s Brian Klingbeil, the company’s executive vice president of technology and strategy, isn’t surprised by the findings though. “Everything that made mainframe great in the past – security, reliability, versatility, performance – is still true today, and the latest generation of mainframe technology will now run the same cutting-edge applications and services as cloud infrastructure”, he said.

He argued that “organisations don’t modernise in a vacuum”, and that “the research supports what we see in our work with clients, where many larger organisations are settling on a hybrid best-of-breed approach”. The upside of that is flexibility for IT decision makers, who can choose the right tool for the right job.

This is not a trend in decline, either. One further finding of the research is that 50% of organisations questioned were looking to continue and expand their use of mainframe technology over the next two years, with just 5% of firms going the other way.

“We believe modern mainframes will have a significant role to play in the hybrid future of infrastructure”, argued Wipro’s Kiran Desai (its senior vice president and global head of cloud and infrastructure services), noting too that “mainframe modernisation is central to a long-term holistic hybrid IT strategy for enterprises leveraging mainframes”.

The full research – going by the name ‘Old Workhorse for New Tech’ – can be read in full here.