Mainframe to Server Conversion
I dont run a really huge server so it is hard to say. I have seen pro's and con's to both environments because I have used them both, but just not on the scale of a giant corporation.
I work for a community college with an average of 12,000 students in attendance over a large area if you consider the Satelite campuses i.e. Community Education Centers spread over multiple counties. So there is this need to be accessable and secure. The Mainframe can do both. The problem is that for a medium sized business that the software and operating system and hardware licenses for a mainframe are somewhat prohibitive to ownership at the level we want to be at. However, this can be an illusion when you look at the big picture.
We just went from a Mainframe Environment to a server based environment. The reason for this was that the technology that was available was more tailored to the server environment and the fact that the product we wanted to purchase was not available on a mainframe. The type of database we wanted to use made a mainframe environment cost prohibitive and it just did not fit into the system model.
Others have claimed that a mainframe can do the work of hundreds of PC's. I say that is pure baloney. Even with the mainframe everyone in our organization still had a PC so there were no significant savings in that department. In fact at the time of the conversion, we were emulating the Mainframe on a Linux PIII Server, that had been customized to interface with the IBM Printer, and Controller. At best we were a low-end Mainframe user.
So we decide to install this new database, a prepackaged Application to run it, along with some third-party products. The nature and complexity of the new database design would have been next to impossible for us to duplicate by our 3 man IT department that supported our existing mainframe. We had a couple other people that did support like a Project Coordinator, and some Network people. However, a project encompassing every aspect of our business model from accounting, asset control, E-mail, Student Systems, Financial Aid, etc., kind of ballooned in size and cost.
Now we have a new-fangled database that is so large we are looking at about 2,000 files. It takes a Database administrator, about 7 System Analysts, and multiple Project managers to get this going. The new product requires traing funds that we did not use to spend and travel to training locations at a cost of around $1800 per person per class. The software keeps changing and we keep having to spend more training funds. The upgrades from one version to the next adds in support for SQL servers that requires and upgrade to the Database version as well. So the costs keep mounting. Database licenses and Sql server licenses, are not cheap. However, every few years we would have had to upgrade the mainframe anyway, and our software was so old that we would have had to find a replacement anyway.
So we did not really save any money. The real costs are not in the hardware or the operating system. The real costs in a conversion are in the devolopment and startup. We could have went to a larger mainframe and a more expensive operating system, installed DBMS and had some professional system analysts come in and set it up from scratch. However, it would have still probably have cost more and taken longer to accomplish. We still might have to go that route because we chose the cheaper database product.