7 reasons why Mainframe computers live on

​Dispelling myths around the contemporary mainframe
How people remember mainframes (source: yourprops.com)

How people remember mainframes (source: yourprops.com)

In a world where cloud computing is perceived as the be-all and end-all of the technology and IT landscape, the mainframe has been labelled as antiquated and irrelevant. But this actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

Today, mainframe computers are as important to IT infrastructures as ever, and as we dispel the following myths, it’s not hard to see why.

Myth #1. The mainframe is dead, or at least, almost…

Studies show that mobile users complete about 37 transactions a day, and 91 per cent of their applications interact with a mainframe. Almost every transaction related to processing a credit card payment, shipping, and making airline reservations includes at least one mainframe interaction. Every time a smartphone or tablet device is used in a transaction, the application touches a mainframe for payment processing and shipping.

Ironically, the more mobile you are, the more you interact with a mainframe.

Myth #2. Companies save money by replacing mainframes with a cloud environment.

A study from Compuware revealed that in 18 of 19 industry sectors, organisations that relied primarily on mainframes for their business growth averaged more income per dollar of IT infrastructure cost than peers relying primarily on commodity servers.

The organisations relying on mainframes averaged 35 per cent lower overall IT infrastructure costs compared to those relying on commodity servers.

Myth #3. The mainframe isn’t contemporary or forward-thinking technology.

IBM in particular, continues to update its mainframe with three new generations in production. Data processing power and speed increases with each generation, and today’s mainframe is accessible over the internet and via mobile applications.

When it comes to coding for mainframe, developers are using Java and Linux.

Mainframes are now capable of processing 2.5 billion transactions a day, enabling real-time encryption of all mobile transactions at any scale as well as analytics on those transactions. This enables digital businesses to run real-time fraud detection on 100 per cent of business transactions.

Myth #4. The mainframe isn’t sexy anymore, especially to millennials.

While there is a common perception that managing data on a mainframe requires an old green screen terminal, the reality is that administrators can now access the mainframe over the internet using smart devices and graphical interfaces– making them every bit as interactive and visual to work on as distributed environments.

University graduates who are skilled in mainframe are actually earning more and finding faster employment because baby boomers are retiring and creating opportunities for next generation mainframe specialists.

Myth #5. The mainframe can’t be used to process big data.

For companies relying on mainframes, 70 to 80 per cent of their corporate data resides on them. These companies know accessing data for analytics and creating more personalised services is faster on mainframes, especially as the amount of data continues to soar – making it critical for mainframes to be part of big data strategies.

Myth #6. There is no new, exciting application development taking place.

According to a recent survey, 93 per cent of mainframe organisations said Java usage is growing or steady, and Java is the language of choice for writing new or rewriting existing applications.

Notably, 83 per cent are projecting steady or growing mainframe capacity, and 90 per cent are predicting long-term staying power for the mainframe platform.

Myth #7. New digital services don’t rely on mainframes.

New digital services rely heavily on mainframes for high-volume transactional processing in financial services (banking, credit cards and stock trading), insurance (claims processing), shipping (railroad and package delivery logistics), travel (fare publishing and reservations) and many other industries.

By 2017, each mobile customer will make about 50 transactions per day, and as a result of each of those transactions, somewhere between 300 and 5,000 mainframe interactions will be generated. That number will only continue to grow as more people use mobile devices as their primary computing platform.

There’s no doubt that mainframes are still the most reliable and most available systems for scaling many high-volume, mission-critical digital workloads.

So the next time you hear “mainframe,” don’t let perception get in the way of the truth.

James Russell is Sales and change leader, APAC at BMC Software