In the late 1950s, a new creature emerged in the world of computers which possessed greater processing capabilities than some of the former classes of the computers such as the servers, personal computers, workstations, and minicomputers. These were known as the “mainframes”; named after the bulky cabinets housing the central processing unit and main memory of it. Since then it has evolved to become an essential resource in banking, insurance, healthcare, government, and many more agencies.
Approximately 50 years later, new technology came into being; known as “Cloud Computing”. It focuses on shifting the computer system resources such as data storage and computing power to data centers (commonly referred to as “Clouds”) available to many users over the internet. Due to the new features (the most prominent of which is cost-effectiveness) of this technology, it attracted more people towards using it as it, especially those who couldn’t afford those huge mainframes.
Hence, the question arises Do we really need a mainframe at this point in time? Or shall cloud computing take over the whole reign of the mainframe in this world? Let’s find out!
How capable has a Mainframe been?
In April 1964, the first modern mainframe – the IBM 360 was launched. It was an innovation that helped man step on the moon and could perform 229,000 calculations per second. From that point, businesses started using them to run critical applications and complete transactions and it became conventional among enterprises.
New technologies in the mid-1980s started gaining muscle and intimidating the mainframe’s survival. Despite the doubts, the mainframe continued to evolve and thrive. In 1992, IBM introduced the System/390 family, which was the first mainframe to break the 1,000 million instructions per second (MIPS) barrier. This increased the mainframe computing capacity by more than 30 percent.
The mainframe might not be as trendy as cloud computing, but it continues to serve as the nervous system of respectable industries like banking, insurance, healthcare, government, aviation, and retail; which is yet a milestone for the cloud to achieve. The mainframe has adapted with each new wave of technology over the years to preserve its position at the center of many computing environments.
The Reason behind the trendiness of Cloud computing
The cloud computing is the cutting-edge technology anticipated to eradicate the mainframe. The cloud-based architecture offers enhanced association and access to data almost anywhere. The primary benefits of cloud computing are enlisted below:
- Flexibility – It is perfect for enterprises with increasing or changing bandwidth demands. It is easy to scale up a cloud capacity as per one’s needs.
- Data recovery – Cloud computing offers businesses a chance to avoid a large investment for data recovery.
- Automatic Software Updates – Regular software updates and security updates are rolled out by the suppliers.
- Capital-expenditure free – High cost of hardware installation and maintenance get eliminated.
- Increased Collaboration – Full visibility and real-time updates of the collaborations of businesses are offered by the file sharing apps and cloud-based workflow.
- Work from Anywhere – Only an internet connection is required to work; no matter wherever on earth you are.
- Ultimate Storage Capacity – Virtually unlimited storage is offered by cloud computing.
- Device independence – Any document, network, application or computer can be worked upon provided it should be present in the cloud space.
Is there any room for the Mainframe now?
If we observe carefully, all the elements required to run a private cloud environment, are offered by a mainframe which includes hordes of memory, enormous storage capacity and the ability to virtualize workloads. It could probably become more economical for the enterprises than a modern cloud provider because of its ability to handle large workloads so dexterously. Moreover, for some enterprises, it would be extremely difficult to re-write the applications which they have already been running on a mainframe.
The attribute that makes a mainframe truly irreplaceable is its imperious computing abilities. Better governance is offered when running workloads and it can manage workloads far better than a mid-range system or a set of distributed systems. Talking about scaling and managing vector processing, nothing can even stand around the mainframes.
According to statistics, more than 10,000 mainframes still run hundreds and thousands of enterprises for finance, business and administrative systems which are also unlikely to change any time soon. One might ask why are industries like banking, insurance, healthcare, etc. still using mainframes. The answer is: “Mainframes are consistent (as it has been with us since years), predictable (as it has been studied on for the past 50 years) and scalable (as it contains a single unit instead of a set of servers).”
From the above information and comparisons illustrating the major milestones of mainframes and the features of super-trendy cloud computing, we can conclude that mainframe still possesses the characteristics which have helped it survive it’s far more advanced and trendy technologies approximately for the past 50 years and it still holds a room in this world of computers.