An Inflection Point in the Mainframe Software Marketplace

Today’s competitive software landscape forces important decisions on mainframe shops in anticipation of every contract cycle

The current mainframe software marketplace is characterized by a steadily increasing level of MIPS installed, in a somewhat contracted North American installed base.  While there is a small reduction in mainframe shops each year (still well over 1,000 in North America by GTSG’s reckoning) most of those who remain are growing their footprint and even adding new workloads.  The importance of mainframe workloads means that this segment remains highly lucrative; as we would expect, provider marketing and sales organizations aggressively pursue these clients.

At the same time, there has been significant consolidation in the provider landscape.  BMC’s acquisition of Compuware becomes final this month; Broadcom’s acquisition of CA Technologies was final in 2018.

Provider consolidation can strengthen the provider’s position by reducing competition- up to a point.  Sometimes, of course, a provider asks for more than the marketplace will bear, and routine renewals become strategic platform decisions.

The decisions are more complex than they may appear

Frankly, the incumbent is normally the clear preference of the (usually) very senior and appropriately risk averse technical staff. These workloads are normally mission critical, or they wouldn’t be on a mainframe in 2021.

Providers seeking to achieve a competitive takeout rarely mention the required to close the business case for transition. In many cases, the software has been customized for the client environment.

GTSG provides our clients with an unbiased assessment of what is truly required.  We look at:

  • Price: total software price does not decrease directly with the number of products or licenses reduced. Vendors will utilize their leverage to maintain – or increase – their revenue stream
  • Function: our four decades of mainframe experience enable an accurate comparison of each product with its potential competitive replacements
  • Complexity: not only the functional replacement, but the integrations must be considered
  • Disruption: what else is happening in the organization? How stretched is the mainframe team? What timelines must be met to avoid prohibitively expensive “last-minute” renewals from the outgoing provider?

GTSG helps with a decision structure, assets and people

GTSG maintains consultative objectivity: when we make a recommendation to you, we’re never incented to prefer one provider over another – we accept commissions from no one.

We’ve been doing this so long, in mainframe shops of all sizes, that we have successfully migrated virtually every mainstream mainframe product to its competition. We help our clients with

  • Business case and project plan: the experience to properly size and sequence a work effort, enabling you to earn and keep the confidence of your leadership team
  • Accelerators: methods and scripts honed and proven in previous migrations, tailored to accelerate and assure the quality of effort
  • People: a team consisting solely of experienced mainframe professionals, dedicated to the platform- and to your success – as is GTSG.

One final point: the planning horizon can extend past a single contract cycle

Some clients find themselves forced into a renewal, because they’re 12 months from contract expiration with an 18-24 month transition roadmap.  We understand how that happens, but we want to help clients prevent it from happening twice.  If you’re out of runway in the current cycle, let’s have a conversation about building a plan that has you migrated well before your next deadline.


GTSG, a truly independent consultancy with decades of mainframe experience, can help with

  • framing the decision– price, function, complexity, disruption- so that your organization has an unbiased sense of what it will take to get your ROI
  • proven methods for migrating virtually any mainstream mainframe product to its competition, backed by reference, at a fraction of the hourly rates of large software providers.

We maintain 100% consultative objectivity: we do not accept one dollar of commissions or revenue from any provider of any product or service other than our own. Full stop.

Write to and we’ll take the next steps together.

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