Mainframes Still Necessary

October 31, 2010

The last time I was in a data center was 48 hours ago. It was a big one. The racks were filled with tiny little things. There was no easy way to count the blades in the lousy light. I knew after the tour that there was no mainframe in the data center. I do run across mainframes at big companies. Earlier this year I visited an insurance company, and it had a traditional data center. Most of the machines in that data center were Dells of one sort or another. Off in one corner was a room within a room. I asked, “What’s the mainframe doing here?” The answer was, “It does some stuff. That was before my time. Let me ask one of the old timers.”

I said, “Nah.” Legacy. Old timers. Got it.

For kicks I read “Mainframes Still Essential for Hybrid Data Centers.”

The article points out that when you have mainframe programs to run, you better have a mainframe. No argument here. The report, as Techeye points out, was created and distributed by a mainframe centric company. Nevertheless, the write up disclosed a juicy detail:

The most important priority for mainframe users in 2010 has been reducing costs, with 65 percent picking that answer. Disaster recovery came in second at 34 percent, while application management and business/IT alignment came in at 30 percent and 29 percent respectively.

No big surprise about costs. Most recent computer science grads close dance with mainframes briefly in their love affair with technology. The disaster recovery point is also understandable. When a Web 2.0 type mucks around with a mainframe or even an AS/400, it doesn’t take long to learn that the big honkers don’t work like a Macbook.

But the killer phrase is “application and business/IT alignment.” One third of the respondents want to get the mainframe to work like more tractable systems. The “alignment” hints at getting those honkers out of the work flow.

I admire the authors of the report and even IBM for spinning PR that pumps mainframes. These machines can be little gold mines today.

The “essential” is understandable, but let’s face it. The future is miniature gizmos and energy efficiency, ease of use, and Webby stuff. A hybrid data center has no choice. Then there are the costs.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2010



2 Responses to “Mainframes Still Necessary”

  1. The Winds of Change | 40 Something and in IT on January 2nd, 2011 10:45 am

    […] Mainframes Still Necessary ( […]

  2. pooja on January 29th, 2011 11:10 am

    Nice article, Decades ago pundits declared that mainframes and the related technology will diminish and now in 2011, I am amused to see the coexistence of an IPAD with a mainframe machine.
    I think this debate will continue and IBM will keep coming with advancements to keep pace with the newer technology.

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