Mainframes: Obsolete or Alive?

By today’s computing standards, the Mainframe is considered archaic, yet surprisingly it is very much alive and thriving! It’s easy to think of mainframes as technology dinosaurs, but the fact is these machines remain a key component of many organizations’ computing strategies.

Mainframes Illustrious Past

Mainframes have come a long way since their introduction in 1952. IBM unveiled the System/360 mainframe, a groundbreaking computer that allowed new levels of compatibility between systems.  The System/360 allowed machines across a product line to work with each other. Business data-processing operations could grow from the smallest machine to the largest. Before the System/360, businesses bought a computer, wrote programs for it, and then when it got too old or slow, they threw it away and started from scratch.  Let’s not forget that it was the System/360 that played a critical role in helping NASA send astronauts to the Moon

2 women in an aged photo wearing business suits from 1950's working on computers
The first Mainframe help send astronauts to the moon

Mainframes Stable Present

IBM’s latest mainframe model is the Z13.  This model is versatile, able to take on the growing mobile app landscape as well as online 24/7 banking. For this reason, the mainframe remains the first choice for the government, airline, banking, healthcare and insurance industries. Mainframes are unique because their advanced I/O clustering technologies allow them to retain performance levels while upgrading computing functions, memory, and storage.  This means no crashes and no downtime. Perhaps the most impressive feature is the ability to have the latest System Z be compatible with the original System/360. 

Large IBM mainframe computers. The latest IBM Z series computers. They are very tall and grey in color.
IBM Z is the latest in the mainframe series

Mainframes Promising Future

Mainframes won’t be going away anytime soon. Their ability to process billions of transactions accurately and in real-time while storing more data, is yet to be rivaled. In fact, more than 70% of Fortune 500 enterprises continue to use mainframes for their most crucial business functions. With advancing technology, mainframes are now running at the speed and scale of mobile technology. The mainframe is also able to ensure the highest level of security and trust in the cloud.  Rest assured, the mainframe  technology will continue to advance in the future. 

Brightly lit sphere with man in black suite drawing a cloud in white neon.
Mainframes are here to stay

Mainframe Careers

It is no secret that experienced mainframe workers are aging, with many looking towards retirement. It might be a perfect time to explore a career shift or new career in mainframe programming or operations support. If you have baseline skills such as Cobol, Java or SQL for example, you could make an easy jump into the mainframe field.  There is a growing number of online tools and resources available to help new entrants learn the ropes. Consider, UdemyMainframes.comInterskill or Learnquest.  

Man standing and pointing towards large computer as he teaches younger pupils that are also standing.
There are many options for learning various technologies for the mainframe.
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