AI advancements prompting faster mainframe modernization in majority of firms, reveals new Advanced survey

06/02/2024 minute read Tim Jones

Innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) - including the rise of generative AI - have inspired more than half of organisations running business-critical mainframe applications to accelerate migrating their environment, according to new survey results.

Advanced’s annual Mainframe Modernisation Business Barometer Report is based on the findings of a survey conducted with 400 IT decision makers across all industries - each participant representing a company that runs at least one mainframe – and in-depth phone interviews with ten of the survey’s participants.

When asked about whether AI had impacted their organisation’s perspectives on the continued role of the mainframe and/or their modernisation strategy, 52% of respondents answered that AI innovations had expedited plans to migrate off the mainframe – a figure rising to nearly 70% among high-revenue firms. Additionally, a further 40% agreed that they were, at the very least, actively considering the potential of AI to enhance their existing mainframe functions.

A key area of investment

“Generative AI is set to have a huge impact on how we handle our mainframe and cloud strategies,” stated the CIO of a large energy company in the EMEA region. “Imagine all the manual tasks that currently take up so much time and effort becoming automated and streamlined. That's the power of AI. Plus, it's not just about making things easier; it's about making them smarter too.”

The report – the fourth of its kind from Advanced - shows that particularly the C-suite sees potential in generative AI, with 26% of CTOs and 22% of CIOs saying that adopting AI is their organisation's top priority.

“I foresee generative AI playing a crucial role in optimising mainframe operations and enhancing cloud-related solutions,” said an Application Manager of a professional services organization in the Netherlands. “Generative AI can assist in automating routine tasks, troubleshooting, and capacity planning for mainframe systems, thereby improving efficiency and reducing operational costs. In the cloud domain, AI-driven insights can help us better manage and optimise cloud resources, ensuring cost-effectiveness and optimal performance. This synergy between generative AI, mainframes, and cloud technologies will enable us to deliver more intelligent and data-driven solutions to our clients. We believe it will be a very crucial element of our business process.”

A measured approach to modernization

At 37%, AI and AIOps rank second among the top areas of focus receiving the most investment from organisations, with the top ranking area being cybersecurity at 43%.

“As we embrace the impact of AI, we must exercise caution in fully entrusting it due to our handling of sensitive data,” added the energy company CIO. “This includes crucial information such as the capacity of megawatt energy we can offer through our operations and our commitment to delivering specified quantities to government and organisational partners while accounting for unforeseen events. Consequently, we cannot place exclusive reliance on AI for managing vital information. Even if we employ it, we must maintain vigilant oversight to ensure precision in our calculations.”

As well as exploring attitudes towards AI in relation to mainframe modernization, Advanced’s 4th annual Mainframe Modernisation Business Barometer Report also unveils how increased competition and an economic downturn are driving organisations to transform their IT landscapes – as well as the other overarching factors that are influencing (and in some cases, changing) sentiments towards both legacy mainframes and modern cloud alternatives. You can download the full report here.