The High Cost of a Mainframe Going Down

Mainframe Computer CenterMainframes are known for their reliability. In the world of big iron, downtime is a rarity because the software is so stable, the hardware is so dependable, and security risks are minimal. Right?

Not necessarily.

Let’s take a look at some surprising mainframe crashes and their associated costs during the past decade.

  • Nielsen: In 2009, a mainframe glitch at the start of the television season brought down all of this company’s major TV ratings services for several days. The problems were caused by relocation of Nielsen’s mainframe computing system. A client described the situation as “continuous chaos.” Nielsen lost millions of dollars and suffered lingering damage to its reputation.
  • HSBC Bank: In 2010, customers of this international bank were unable to perform online banking or use ATM machines because of a mainframe outage. It was the second such crash during a six-month period. Similar problems occurred at HSBC three years later in 2013, affecting millions of users. The bank lost money and customers.
  • RBS banking group: In 2012, members of the IT staff “badly botched” routine maintenance of the IBM mainframe system and crashed a system that processed 20 million transactions per day for 16.7 million customers of RBS, NatWest, and Ulster Bank. The system outage lasted for 4 days.
  • Taiwan: In August, 2018, ATMS throughout Taiwan crashed for two hours because of programming errors in the IBM mainframe and crippled inter-bank transactions, resulting in lost profit and a damaged reputation.
  • IRS: In April, 2018, IRS systems crashed on tax day for 11 hours. According to FCW, “The agency fields systems in outdated computer languages…and relies on out-of-support mainframe and server technology.”


The Cost of Human Error

The common thread in these and many similar cases is human error. In fact, studies show that human error is responsible for up to 75 percent of system downtime. Some common mainframe programming errors include the following:

  • Changed or deleted ISPF dataset
  • Altered security rule
  • Stopping the linklist (LLA)
  • Parmlig error

Such errors can be disastrous. According to a 2017 Ponemon Institute study, the average cost of downtime at an organization is about $9,000 per minute. That doesn’t even take into account the damage to your company’s reputation, customer base, and future. But here’s another statistic to keep in mind – a stunning 40 percent of businesses that suffer significant downtime never fully recover.

Obviously, carefully planned disaster recovery solutions are essential. But the core of the issue is the limited pool of knowledgeable mainframe programmers on staff at many financial, government and other organizations. Inexperienced programmers with limited knowledge of the systems for which they are responsible can cause immense damage.

Preventing Expensive Downtime

At New Iron Solutions, we understand the staffing challenges that can lead to costly mainframe crashes and business downtime. We can help you meet your staffing needs before they impact your business. Contact us online today or call 1-844-388-IRON (4766).