But companies are still unprepared.
Two-thirds of CIOs believe a looming mainframe developer skills shortage will hurt their business, according to research.
As a result CIOs are uneasy about their ability to effectively support new applications and meet the fast changing needs of the business.
But despite the threat, there is little preparation among companies to handle the skill shortage risks, according to the research among 350 CIOs around the world, commissioned by mainframe software firm Compuware.
The survey found that even as new technology platforms such as the cloud take off in the enterprise, the majority of CIOs (81 percent) still believe that the mainframe will "remain a key business asset over the next decade".
However, while the mainframe is still relevant, 66 percent of CIOs fear that the impending retirement of the mainframe workforce will hurt their business by reducing their ability to support legacy applications.
Increased application risk (61 percent), reduced productivity (61 percent), and an increase in project overruns (56 percent) top their list of concerns.
Despite these fears, little progress is being made to smooth the transition. Almost half (40 percent) of CIOs still have no formal plans in place for dealing with the key risks associated with a mainframe skills shortage.
"Mainframe applications have been updated and extended numerous times over the past 30 years, making them extremely complex to manage," said Kris Manery, general manager for mainframe solutions at Compuware.
"While experienced mainframe developers are familiar with these systems, newer developers can take up to two years to get up-to-speed."
Manery said: "As more experienced mainframe workers approach retirement age, businesses need to act quickly to address this pending skills shortage and make concrete plans for a pain-free transition."