My best man is wrong about Mainframes. They're more relevant than ever.

July 15, 2021

I've spent the last 20 years of my career working in business strategy and consulting. When I took my current job as head of Mainframe Strategy for Broadcom, my "best man" and friend turned to me and said, "Mainframe strategy? Are you like that appliance repairman that waits for calls all day that never come?" Those things pretty much run themselves - and haven't been the center of attention in decades. Why on earth do they need a strategy guy?"

The joke wasn't entirely lost on me. Mainframes are so proven and dependable - in fact, they're used by over 70% of Fortune 500 companies - that it's easy to see why people may believe there's no need to tinker with them.

But my friend was wrong to assume (jokingly) that there is no room for strategy and innovation on the mainframe and it's best left on auto-pilot. With the right strategy and attention, our growing use of mainframes can continue to be even more than the already world-changing banking, insurance, online billing, and flight bookings it handles every day. It can and already is an important part of the hybrid cloud movement that's dominating computing right now.  

So what does strategy for mainframes mean, then? The trick is asking, "What does the future of the mainframe look like?" That question is actually my everyday job. Over the past two years, we have heard serious questions from our customers about mainframe and their business. For example:

  • Can I securely integrate my mainframe with the rest of my hybrid infrastructure?
  • Is it possible to have a modern user experience on the mainframe?
  • Is there a mainframe partner that is committed to and investing in the platform's future?
  • Will there be a next generation of skilled mainframers?

At Broadcom, our unequivocal reply is "Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes."

  1. The future of mainframe is open. There is a philosophical divide among mainframe companies. In one corner, you have Broadcom who wants to open the platform to be cross compatible with other hardware and software technologies, letting the user decide what specific pieces work better for the business. In the other corner, you have other vendors who talk about support for open approaches but who don't go much beyond just point-to-point integrations across their own stack. Broadcom's use of open APIs not only enables us to play nice across our own portfolio, but also with competing products. This flexibility is a perfect fit for our focus on broadly opening the platform to hybrid clouds and the next generation of developers. In this way, Broadcom establishes itself as an open leader. 
  2. User experience (both new and old) is everything. Mainframes are also unique in that the old guard is happy to use the traditional green screens that have dominated the user interface for decades, whereas the new guard favors GUIs and cloud-like development tools that they are accustomed to using on other platforms. In our view, mainframe environments must accommodate both preferences, which is precisely what our software does. Regardless of your background, Broadcom is a user experience leader who can help both camps come together and succeed.
  3. Reinvention requires dedication and investment. We are committed to innovation on the mainframe because we believe in the platform's long-term potential. We are investing so that our customers get even more value from their investment in the mainframe. We are the only mainframe company that has hired in the triple digits every year since 2019. We're already on track to hire over 100 more this year and see no reason to decrease that investment, especially with the record number of transactions that our mainframe customers processed last year. In this way, Broadcom is an investment leader. 
  4. New blood is building tomorrow's mainframers. In addition to internal hiring, Broadcom is an education leader when it comes to building and training the next generation of mainframers on behalf of our customers. Through our Vitality Program, we train residents for our customers on our dime for a full year. Our customers get access to free online education and can enroll their employees in our six-week Mainframe Academy certification program. We're also growing the talent pool with our Associate Software Engineering Program, which trains recent graduates and experienced professionals seeking a career change. This makes us an education leader. 

Because of our leading commitments and investments in recent years, we hope you'll consider us as your next great strategic partner. As I've learned over my career and most recently with mainframes, the right strategy makes all the difference. Want to know more about how the above programs might benefit your business? Reach out to me ( or any of our other experts. That's what we're here for. 

Like what you read? Join our Mainframe Insights group to collaborate and ideate with us as we grow our Mainframe ecosystem together:

Tag(s): Mainframe