There was a time, quite a while ago now, when there were serious IT executives announcing that the mainframe was obsolete, overpriced technology and that it’s days were numbered. It was a dinosaur. But these folks weren’t well informed, and perhaps had certain biases that clouded their judgement. Gone are the days where a CIO would start a new job with the intent of “getting off the mainframe” just for the sake of doing it. There have been too many failed attempts at that (here’s an example), and even successful migrations have left IT departments with less capability than they had before the migration.
I think we’re past that now, and for the most part, CIOs realize that the mainframe is just one platform in a range of options available to IT organizations as they strive to balance performance, capacity, transaction throughput, cost, reliability, flexibility, security and a handful of other top-level business concerns. The fact is that the mainframe is the most cost-effective AND the best-performing platform available for large, high-volume, transaction-intensive IT environments. In fact, this has been the case for some time now, and nobody really doubts that.
But it may still come as a surprise to many just how prevalent the mainframe is in everyday life. Many realize that most ATMs connect to the bank’s own CICS on-line mainframe applications. Many large retailers, most large automotive service centers and all large airlines use mainframe systems for transaction processing, parts inventory, reservations, and much more.
With all these mainframe systems in place, is it really a surprise to find out that many of the everyday things that you do with your Apple Watch will initiate mainframe activity? When your bank sends you an email about some new promotion— that’s initiated by the bank’s mainframe-based rules engines. Even the newest buzz in IT – Big Data and analytics – are often run on the mainframe – why? Because that’s where much of the transaction records are, where the customer information is, and where that information is most fresh and recent.
The mainframe has been with us for a long time, and is still as relevant as ever today, as business looks to evolve, leveraging data and processes into future success.