Gap between Unix and mainframe costs is widening, says analyst, as suppliers deliver low cost Cmos processors.
Mainframe vendors are fighting off Unix suppliers' attempts to muscle in on their market by making their systems cheaper to run.
A large centralised mainframe system costs £3,450 per user each year, according to estimates from industry consultant Xephon, based on customer research. Decentralised Unix platforms can cost nearly three times as much, with a decentralised Unix environment costing £9,425 a user per year.
IBM, Fujitsu and Amdahl, have seen the gap between mainframe and Unix costs widen. Five years ago, a Unix environment was one and a half times as expensive to run as a mainframe.
Mark Lilleycrop, an analyst at Xephon, said that the gap is widening because of the increasing use of low cost Cmos processors in mainframes.
Vince Offer, technical consultant for financial information supplier Primark, said more staff are needed to run Unix environments than mainframes. Primark runs both Unix and mainframe machines.
"People costs can be high, and harder to manage, but you need a certain number of users to make a mainframe worthwhile," said Offer.
Chris Sarfas, UK product marketing manager for Unix vendor Sun Microsystems, said: "Cost is not the argument. The whole reason for using IT is to gain competitive advantage, so you need to look at what you want your system to deliver." "Just about everyone knows that software costs in the mainframe environment are far more expensive than for Unix," he added.
Five year cost of ownership - cost per user per year:
Large mainframe - £3,450
Decentralised Unix - £9,425
Centralised Unix - £7,350
Decentralised proprietary (eg AS/400) - £8,925
Centralised proprietary - £7,050
Decentralised PC - £10,850
Centralised PC - £5,900
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