When Dell acquired Clerity Solutions, the industry began buzzing about a niche IT market: rehosting IBM mainframe customers to modern systems. But will customers go with that flow?

To be sure, Clerity's rehosting technology paves the way for Dell Services to help customers reduce the cost of transitioning business Relevant Products/Services-critical apps and data Relevant Products/Services from legacy computing systems to more modern architectures, like x86-based systems and the cloud. Clerity automates the approach with its UniKix technology, which eliminates the need to retest systems and retrain IT personnel.

Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services, took a dig at the company's competitors in the merger announcement: Unlike other providers, he said, Dell is committed to open architecture computing. Of course, Dell has a vested interest via its investment in x86 servers.

The End of Mainframes?

Does the renewed talk about rehosting signal an end to mainframes? It wouldn't be the first time it was prophesied by IBM competitors. But so far it hasn't happened. That said, some analysts believe it could be different this time.

Charles King, for one, is at least willing to consider the possibilities. We asked King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to weigh in on the case for mainframe rehosting

IBM's System z is not entirely immune to technology disruption or corporate dispossession, King said. Enterprises take stock of their IT investments annually and the ones that aren't delivering measurable value move closer to the chopping block.

"The mainframe's common use as a legacy applications platform offers it a certain level of immunity," King said. "But ongoing IBM software and maintenance costs and the continuing evolution of competing system platforms and technologies can make migration look pretty darned attractive to companies that aren't actively growing their mainframe installations."

Could Dell-Clerity Be the Future?

The question is, could Dell and Clerity push the rehosting envelope further across the IT table? Although IBM has kept its mainframe business profitable, in part, by understanding the changing needs of enterprise customers and adapting the System z platform to those requirements, King said, mainframe hosting is not an impossible nut to crack.

"Why Dell could succeed where others have failed is due to a continuing confluence of evolving technologies and trends that have made commodity x86-based systems and services, including cloud-based offerings, the most dynamic part of today's business computing market," he said.

"Is Dell likely to win this latest iteration of the 'mainframe wars'? Not entirely. But by leveraging its own formidable arsenal of solutions and services with Clerity's extensive rehosting technologies and experience, Dell could become the premiere destination for enterprises actively planning or intrigued by the concept of mainframe migration."