Today marks the 50th birthday of the IBM mainframe. Here’s why it’s still going strong.
IBM’s System 360 mainframe was first revealed on this date in 1964. While other technologies have come and gone, the mainframe has remained a stalwart of the business: despite the rise of distributed systems and cloud, some reports suggest 80% of the world’s corporate data still resides on mainframes.
Hey, guess what? We’ve still got a lot of information
The mainframe transformed the way companies stored customer data. Half a century later and the world has got even more information to store (most of which has only been generated in the last few years). With all that data, we still need a place to put it.
Ed Airey, product manager at Micro Focus, says: "Most mainframe applications and systems today are very large repositories for customer data.
"Where we start is sometimes where we end up. We’re still reliant on many of the same systems that we started with. It’s very much true of the mainframe system. It’s robust, resilient and it’s continued to evolve."
Cloud isn’t yet ubiquitous
But doesn’t the cloud just do all that? According to Airey, "the mainframe was actually the first cloud". It’s a fair point, but it’s also accurate to say many larger companies still put most of their structured data in their own systems, rather than the cloud. Airey adds: "It’s hosting applications and systems in shared time; cloud is just a different way of looking at the same thing."
What will be interesting is whether mainframes prove scalable enough to deal with the amount of data pouring out of the Internet of Things in a decade or so when it really takes off…
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