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Two Tribes, One Future: Bringing Mainframes Into the IT Mainstream

Two groups with a lot in common and plenty to lose are separated by management, perception, and old feuds and prejudices. Money is tight, and fighting words are flying. Not everywhere, mind you--most of the 831 business technology professionals responding to our InformationWeek Analytics Mainframe Survey say their companies use both mainframes and distributed systems, and choose based on the best platform for a given task. But the radical fringe is alive, well, and possibly living in your data center.

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"The distributed model of computing is far more powerful than the centralized mainframe model," says one respondent. Another says he'd consider moving to a mainframe only if it were running as a Windows Server 64-bit OS with virtual Windows Servers in both 64 and 32 bit. Dream on, buddy.

Our research also brought in some choice comments from the big iron camp. What's most disturbing here is the wasted opportunity. IT professionals love to talk the talk about convergence. Whether it's voice, video, security, mobile devices, or the cloud, we hold meetings on, write proposals about, and study new ways to combine operations and save money. But the convergence opportunity of the decade could be right in front of us, in the form of making mainframe and distributed computing teams one. Will CIOs walk the walk, even if there's political heat attached?

237ID2_Mainframe_chart23_440.gif"Bringing your teams together has to start at the top," says Charlie Weston, group VP of information technology at grocery chain Winn-Dixie, one of only a few organizations we know of that has successfully reorganized IT to bring mainframe and distributed factions under one banner. The team has two subgroups, architecture and operations. One designs it, one runs it. All platforms are managed together; mainframe and distributed teams work together and report to the same person.

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