Mainframe at 50: The ‘Engine of Progress’ Drives On

Mainframe EC12_IBM_IMS.jpg

Mainframes process 2.5 billion gigabytes of data globally daily—a capacity its developers could have scarcely comprehended in the platform’s early days 50 years ago.

The stunning breadth of the mainframe’s capabilities, as well as its dynamic future, took center stage earlier this month when IBM celebrated five decades of System z innovation at an event in New York City.

The platform, pivotal in everything from the moon landing to pretty much every ATM transaction in the world, is anything but an old-fashioned technology, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive IBM Software and Systems.

“We’re really at the beginning of how IT will be applied to change the world,” he said.

Banks such as Citi process 13 billion database calls per day globally, said Anthony DiSanto, managing director and global head of core infrastructure services at Citi. That volume simply wouldn’t be possible without the mainframe’s capacity and capabilities, which continues to multiply.

“Do you know how many 360s it would take to do what one zEC12 can do today?” said Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president for IBM Systems and Technology Group and IBM Integrated Supply Chain. “[It would take]20,000 American football fields filled with 360s to do what we can do on one zEC12 today. So, [there is] tremendous capacity on this platform, and it’s growing every day.”

SHARE, which celebrated its own 50th anniversary in 2005, has played a crucial role in the mainframe’s development and evolution. From its origins as the first computing user group, SHARE’s fundamental purpose has been collaboration—the sharing of knowledge to promote advancement across the platform.

The mainframe will continue to drive ingenuity because of its inherently efficient design, Mills said. It was designed from the start to run efficiently at the maximum performance level, which has made it an investment that’s a tremendous long-term value.

That value continues to hold strong despite years of innovation from competing IT suppliers. Indeed, the combined capacity of every other platform fails to reach the expanse of the mainframe, Mills said.

Just as the mainframe continues to be an engine of progress, as IBM calls it, SHARE will also persist as an association designed to educate, grow and encourage enterprise IT professionals as it guides and directs hardware and software suppliers such as IBM.

Connect with SHARE in August at SHARE in Pittsburgh. Miss out on SHARE in Anaheim? Browse a selection of the materials.  

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