Who’s got the skills to maintain your mainframe software?

IBM Mainframe maintenance: the value for money mystery

Mainframes are here to stay. With their unbeatable security and performance, they continue to be one of the most important tools available for enterprise IT architecture. If your organization uses mainframes, you’re in good company: according to figures released by IBM at the end of 2020, 71% of Fortune 500 companies still rely on mainframes to power their businesses.

But mainframe ownership comes with a serious financial commitment. In addition to the eye-watering initial investment, up to 80% of the total cost of ownership for these super computers comes down to maintenance. Some of that cost is related to hardware, but the majority is dedicated to ongoing support and maintenance for all the different types of software running on these mainframes.

If these systems are inherently ultra-reliable, where is all that Mainframe maintenance money going? For a lot of users, the answer isn’t clear – they aren’t seeing the innovation, value or level of support they deserve for the amount they are paying. However, many companies have resigned themselves to paying the ever-increasing annual fees. They are convinced that vendor subscription and support (S&S) is the only way to keep their systems running smoothly and securely. But at what cost and risk?

A concerning shortage of the right mainframe skills


To add insult to injury, when companies do need assistance with a serious technical issue or security threat, they often find that their pricey IBM support teams aren’t up to the task. One recurring issue is extremely slow response times. Another is the inability to find a successful resolution when someone does finally come to their aid.

All of these challenges have the same underlying cause: a serious shortage of technical experts with the necessary skills to maintain enterprise software – especially “legacy” solutions that were introduced up to a decade ago. The remaining experts employed by software manufacturers are stretched too thin to cover all their customers’ support requests in a timely manner.

Where to find independent mainframe software experts

It might come as a surprise that major software vendors like IBM don’t have the right mix of technical skills in their support teams. So, where did all the experienced software experts go? In some cases, the more senior staff simply reached retirement age. And in other cases, software vendors made a conscious decision to layoff certain types of software experts to prioritize new hires who are trained on the latest developments. One example is the well-publicized claim that IBM actively encouraged ‘dinobabies’ (older, more experienced workers) to leave the company.

The good news is that these experts are still around – if you know where to find them. And Origina does. We designed our business to address this very IT skills gap, with a specific focus on IBM® software. Over the years we’ve built a team of 600+ independent IBM® software experts who know every single detail about the products they support – some of them even wrote the original code!

You have a choice when it comes to mainframe support

We initially built our business by focusing on IBM® Passport Advantage products on distributed systems, but our offering now includes Z series mainframes as well. This recent service evolution exemplifies everything we believe in: helping you manage your software, on your terms. Because no matter what you’ve heard elsewhere, here’s the truth: You DO have a choice when it comes to software support. And working with a third-party software maintenance and support (TPSM) provider like Origina gives you access to a wide range of benefits that aren’t available with standard vendor S&S.

Besides getting direct access to the mainframe skills you need, another key advantage is the level of collaboration. At the start of each new customer relationship, Origina carefully assesses your entire IBM® estate, sorting through your current products, licenses, contracts, and entitlements. We then zoom out to better understand the processes and experiences your software enables and define your company’s unique needs.


Our consultative approach clarifies priorities, enhances compliance and minimizes risk. It also creates a foundation for deeper partnerships, like advising on long-term migration or modernization projects.

And we can’t forget to mention the price. Our services cost far less than what you’re used to paying for vendor software support – most of our customers see savings of at least 50%. Better yet, the savings are twofold: you’re not only able to reduce support costs, you’re also able to extract more value out of the software you’ve already paid for.

Boost your software maintenance skills with Origina

If you’re ready to explore a more effective way to maintain all your IBM® software, let’s plan an introductory call. We’d love to hear more about your business environment and technical challenges, and explain how our team can help close your IT talent gap.


Don’t look at Z mainframes as just technical debt. Optimizing these workhorse systems can result in better software support and extended value.

Origina is known for our concierge service approach for legacy IBM software. Read more about what our CSMs and GIEs can do for your company and its tech estate.

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