Technology research firms publish figures about mainframes : the cost for installed Mips per year depends clearly on machine size but average to approx. 3’500 euros per year for a single Mips. it is matched by our experience.
Average mainframe configurations are in the range of 2’000 to 5’000 Mips.
So, mainframes cost millions to tens of millions per year. A vast majority of this cost represented by the software that is far more expensive than the hardware : usually 2/3 to 3/4 of the total cost depending on context.
Current x86 processors are highly powerful and clearly match mainframe processor capacity : 11 millions x86 servers are sold each year compared to a few thousands mainframes.
Chip suppliers like Intel, AMD, etc. have leveraged Moore’s law over last 20 years to produce “computing monsters” as powerful as any other proprietary processors (Risc chip like Sparc, Power, etc.) but can at the same time enjoy a much wider market to deliver the same raw power at much cheaper price : they dilute R&D expense (major cost driver for chips) on a much bigger production.
That is the first cost-advantage for x86 systems.
The power of x86 processors assembled in the proper architecture doesn’t have to be demonstrated anymore : the biggest IT infrastructures in the world (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, etc.) are exclusively based on those chips. They demonstrate that huge and extremely reliable systems can be built to serve efficiently the whole Internet with massive workloads. It means that they can also be used to serve the needs of the most demanding traditional corporations.
Then come Open Source and Linux : the cost of development for a regular Linux distribution has been estimated to more than 11 billions USD. Such a valuable asset is yet accessible freely thanks to its open source licensing. This free origin also makes it impossible for “Linux packagers” like Redhat, Canonical to charge a lot for their packaging and support services when they are chosen as suppliers by our customers.
The virtues of Linux have “virally” propagated to upper software layers : JBoss is a fully JEE-compliant Java application server but totally free in its community version. Eclipse is a premium but free Java IDE. Relational database servers like Postgres can serve the most demanding applications even if they don’t cost anything etc.
So, even when buying supported versions of software mentioned above, it is possible to build bullet-proof systems (from a performance and reliability standpoint) which match the very stringent SLAs of the mainframe but which cost only a tiny fraction (a few percents only !) of this mainframe.
Erenea’s migration / transformation solution supplies the right tools and best practices to move toward this optimal economical efficiency.