Mainframe Technology Is Far From Obsolete – As Always, It’s Indispensable

It all started at Harvard

Let’s take a walk down memory lane when the mainframe computer was envisioned as a large-scale calculator to work through a problem relating to the design of vacuum tubes. The year was 1936 when Howard H. Aiken, a Harvard Researcher, who proposed to build one, was rejected several times. Eventually, it took IBM $200,000 to build one, that too not until 1943.

Of course, it did not look anything like the evolved mainframe computers. Thus, the journey of mainframe computing started and had been the cornerstone of Enterprise Computing, providing reliable and high-performance computing power to run critical business applications.

The Big Question

In recent years, there have been questions about the future of mainframe technology, as businesses explore other computing options like cloud computing and distributed computing. However, the mainframe is far from obsolete, and there are several reasons to believe that it will continue to be a critical technology in the years to come.

Technology is too important to be sunsetting

It has stayed too long in the race. Even though many had spoken about sunsetting it, mainframe technology still commands the same popularity. Find out why it is very hard to part with it.

  • The mainframe remains an essential technology for many large businesses and government agencies, particularly those in the finance, healthcare, and transportation industries, where high-performance computing and reliability are crucial. These organizations rely on mainframes to process massive amounts of data, run complex applications, and handle transactions in real-time, with the kind of reliability and uptime that is hard to match with other computing platforms.
  • It has continued to evolve over the years, with new hardware, software, and tools being developed to make it more powerful and versatile. For example, modern mainframes can support multiple operating systems and virtualization, allowing businesses to run a range of applications on a single mainframe system. Additionally, mainframes can integrate with other systems, including cloud-based infrastructure, allowing businesses to take advantage of the benefits of both technologies.
  • Most suited for modern computing trends, such as big data, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT). These trends generate enormous amounts of data that need to be processed, analyzed, and stored in real-time, which is a perfect use case for mainframes. Moreover, the mainframe can be used to manage and secure data across multiple platforms, making it an important tool for businesses looking to implement a multi-cloud strategy.
  • A rich ecosystem of tools, services, and expertise to support, that many of the largest technology vendors and consulting firms still have mainframe practices. A wealth of third-party software and tools can be used to develop and manage mainframe applications, as the ecosystem ensures that the technology will continue to evolve and innovate, meeting the changing needs of businesses over time.

Fluent in many languages

In addition, the technology supports several programming languages, both traditional and modern. COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) is one of the oldest and most widely used programming languages in mainframe technology. It is known for its ability to handle large volumes of data and transactions and is commonly used in the banking and finance industries. Another popular programming language in mainframe technology is Assembler, which is used to create machine language programs that run on the mainframe’s central processing unit (CPU).

Other programming languages used in mainframe technology include PL/I (Programming Language One), FORTRAN (Formula Translation), and REXX (Restructured Extended Executor). In recent years, mainframe technology has also embraced modern programming languages such as Java and Python, allowing organizations to develop web and mobile applications that can access mainframe systems. Overall, the choice of programming language in mainframe technology depends on the application being developed and the needs of the organization.

In conclusion

The future of mainframe technology is bright. Despite the rise of other computing platforms, the mainframe remains a critical technology for many large businesses and government agencies. As the mainframe continues to evolve and integrate with other technologies, it will continue to be a critical tool for businesses looking to process and manage large amounts of data, run complex applications, and secure their data across multiple platforms. So, businesses with mainframes should continue to invest in them and take advantage of their benefits.


Aasif Ansari

Aasif Ansari

Lead – ADM



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