Here's an interesting story!
January 30, 2008 (Computerworld) An IBM zSeries mainframe that Palm Beach Community College bought for about a half-million dollars in 2005 was sold this month on eBay for $40,000.
Mainframes and other IT systems "depreciate worse than cars," lamented Tony Parziale, CIO at the college in Florida. Parziale has moved some of the school's business applications from the zSeries machine to an Intel-based server that he said could deliver the same level of processing services at a much lower cost.
In the full story, written by Patrick Thibodeau of ComputerWorld, there are not many details of the "business applications" that the school is moving to Intel. The article doesn't talk in detail about the economic analysis either, only quoting the CIO of the school saying that they would save money by making the move.
But the thing that enables this is interoperability. We lack all the details, but no doubt, there are other systems that connect to that mainframe. Moving apps from the mainframe to an alternative system means that the new system has to expose the same or equivalent connectivity options. In many cases, migration of systems is done in a staged manner, so that the new system and the old system need to interconnect during the migration. Interop makes it all possible. The use of interoperable communications protocols makes it possible for CIOs to re-examine their hardware and platform investments and change course when economics dictate. Interop is the key!
Interesting that this school and this CIO were also the subject of a case study written by IBM published a couple years ago. I guess maybe the CIO changed his mind?