The term mainframe computer is more likely to draw a blank stare than knowledgeable nod in the modern world of cloud computing and portability. However, mainframes are still the spine of transaction processing in near all financial markets and retain their importance to several organisations.
In 2016, as consumers and businesses make mobile devices their primary digital access point for work and day-to-day use, IBM has invested millions into a new mainframe, the z13 series – a mobile-focused mainframe that hopes to storm into every organization’s server room as digital transactions and online payments take over the world.
How can an outdated concept stay relevant?
More than three billion people have access to the internet in the world and people are becoming more comfortable with conducting business online. In addition, smartphone use is on the the rise, according to Cisco. Keeping up with this exponential growth in demand for online transactions and services will become a major business issue and specially-designed mainframes can provide amazing scalability for enterprises compared to cloud computing. Mainframes can virtualise hundreds and sometimes thousands of more pedestrian servers, so if a company has a seasonal explosion in the activity then the mainframe can scale to meet the new demand.
While the idea of the mainframe is often viewed as an old 1950s ticket printer that takes up an entire room, the reality is they continue to be far more valuable to the business overall even as the market for mainframes contracts.
Strength of security
Mainframe security is top-notch, often built from the ground up into the Linux operating system and through cryptographic hardware acceleration. Enterprise companies face several network securities risks from third-party sources, such as network and data tapping, and can lose valuable business assets to cyber threats. Security is becoming increasingly important to executives and mainframes offer much better protection than the alternatives.
At the same time, with more transactions needing encryption and decryption and consumers having patience that can only be measured in seconds, organisations need the speedy safe solution that the mainframe provides.
IT database managers are often confronted with the impossible maintenance task of either maintaining lots of smaller servers or dealing with third party providers, but what if both of those problems disappeared with a mainframe? One giant server with huge processing capabilities has a much smaller footprint than a room full of multiple servers, meaning an organisation needs less people and space to effectively deploy the hardware.
Enterprise-level organisations prefer the mainframe and will continue for a long time because of the security it offers, as well as the control and scalability.