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Mainframe Is Not Dead; It’s Still Very Much Alive and Kicking!

New, flashier technologies emerge daily in this era, rendering many older ones obsolete. Once the cornerstone of all businesses with massive data processing requirements, Mainframe technology is on the radar of naysayers and is called a dying technology.

Despite often being thought of as old technology, mainframes have evolved and are a vital component of the ever-changing IT landscape. So, why do we think mainframe technology is dying?

Reality Check

Mainframes still process 1 Trillion web transactions daily, and the global mainframe market is projected to reach $2906.61 million in 2025 and have a CAGR of 4.3% from 2018 to 2025.

Mainframe may not be the trendiest technology on the block; however, it has held its grip on long-time users. Plus, industries like banking, insurance, retail, etc., still rely on Mainframe technology as it –

  • Delivers the world’s best security and reliability with a millisecond response time
  • Enables hybrid cloud deployment and performance at any scale, and
  • It is still highly relevant in the technology stack

Even as digital transformation prompts many organizations to migrate to the cloud, mainframes are evolving to handle AI and machine learning.

Here’s a SWOT analysis of mainframe technology to help us understand its future.

Mainframe Technology’s Strengths

Here are some of the strengths mainframe technology offers:

  1. Unwavering Security – Mainframes score significantly higher in security compared to their peers. This makes mainframes an apt option for industries with critical information security needs. Therefore, banks count on mainframe technologies for their transactions.
  2. Reliability – Mainframes have special CPUs and SAPs that help manage throughput and quickly move around the information. They have a large amount of storage and processing power and can be deployed in situations where they’ve got to process tons of simple transactions with zero downtime. Mainframes can handle tons of transactions without breaking a sweat.
  3. Speed – Mainframes have no competitors when it comes to high-speed transaction processing. The volume of transactions they can handle is unparalleled. Hence, retailers, airline companies, and credit card companies lean on mainframes for speedy transaction processing.
  4. Cost per transaction – The humongous number of transactions mainframes process in a year makes them cost-effective in the long run as they ultimately keep the total cost of ownership (TCO) low.

Challenge with Mainframe Technology

Cost – Mainframes bring great value to enterprises for their mission-critical processes. However, the initial capital investment can be unaffordable for smaller companies. The most significant cost drivers of mainframe technology are:

  • Software licenses
  • Contracts
  • Operational inefficiencies

Mainframe costs can be managed by understanding what influences these cost drivers. Despite this, they remain costly investments.

Opportunities for Mainframe Technology

  1. The rise in demand for high-performance computing – High-performance computing (HPC) is the foundation for scientific and industrial advancements. It needs billions of equations to be solved at once. As technology advances, these calculations become more complex. The rise in demand for HPC has paved the way for mainframe technology, which has high storage and processing power.
  2. Development of the IoT landscape – According to McKinsey, the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices is projected to increase to 43 billion by 2023. As a result, billions of devices will perform trillions of transactions. There is a pressing concern regarding managing the processing capacity and securing these transactions. We’re talking about 10 or 100 times the current storage and computing capacity. Mainframes are suited to rise to the occasion at such a scale. They are designed to handle such a load. Hence, developing the IoT landscape will improve the scope of use of mainframe technology.
  3. Mainframe as a Service (MFaaS) – MFaaS relieves businesses of the burden of maintaining infrastructure while allowing them to reap the benefits of mainframe computing. It will enable companies to focus on their core functions. The increase in MFaaS has broadened the scope of mainframe technology.

Threats with Mainframe Technology

Lack of mainframe-trained professionals – IT skills gap is a looming crisis for the industry. As the older generation of developers specializing in COBOL retires, there is a shortage of mainframe skills. Even though mainframes are evolving and are now quite at home with modern programming languages such as Python, Java, and C++, the younger, impressionable developers who are influenced by trends still need to have mainframes as their first career choice. As a result, there is a shortage of skills in the mainframe technology market.

Conclusion

Mainframe technology has some potent capabilities in terms of security and processing power. However, only technology can suit some organizations in all situations. Mainframes are highly suitable for specific types of organizations and processes. They have already integrated with other kinds of infrastructure and have adapted to every new era of technology. Hence, mainframe technology has come a long way and is far from obsolete.

HCL Mainframe provides essential solutions for users to optimize their mainframe investments. Contact us to learn more.

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Further Reading
10 Mainframe Developer Skills for Your Career Path
Mainframes | September 29, 2022
10 Mainframe Developer Skills for Your Career Path
A mainframe is a massive central computer system that can do large-scale organizational calculations and storage. Mainframe developers work on these mainframes, which can run at high speeds. Unfortunately, fewer developers are mainframe experts. However, they might work in various businesses and locations worldwide with the correct mainframe developer skill set.
What Is the Future of Mainframe Technology
Mainframes | September 27, 2022
What Is the Future of Mainframe Technology? Will It Ever Go Away?
Mainframes are high-performance computers with massive memory and processing capabilities that can handle trillions of calculations and transactions in real-time. They were first introduced in the 1950s and have several advantages over PCs, workstations, and minicomputers.
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