Mainframes are still good technology to work with

The mainframe has been declared dead for 25 years. But it still asserts itself, yes: it is even more alive than ever.

Large companies in particular rely on host technology as the most important tool in their IT. In the next few years, most of the veteran mainframe experts will be retiring. So what?

How the market segment will develop - especially with regard to the most recent descriptive changes in the IT world, keywords touch surfaces, cloud computing as standard, advancing virtualization, etc. - we asked three top-class experts on our past user days:

At a panel discussion they provided interesting insights into the world of IBM. The unanimous conclusion: the dead live longer.

More power for the mainframe

Above all, IBM sees itself facing the challenge of creating cutting-edge technology that can still be financed - also against the background that the mainframe can usually never be used in very large quantities, so Wolfgang Maier.

The technology partnership concluded at the beginning of 2015 with the semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries, within the framework of which GlobalFoundries will deliver a technology specially adapted for the mainframe, should be interpreted against this background.

So IBM wants to make its products competitive and achieve new increases in performance. The first result is a new one 22 nanometer processorrecently launched. The next processor is already being developed and made ready for the market.

Mobile devices and big data shape the market

Ever more and better hardware performance is one thing. For Martin Bogdan However, in the coming years the mainframe market will mainly be characterized by the connection to mobile devices and the big data topic. In connection with big data, it will be necessary to integrate functions for intelligent search and the analysis of very large amounts of data.

Strikes the same horn Wolfram Greis.

For him, the mainframe is currently being slowed down by three key factors:

  • the cost of software licenses,
  • the lack of training and
  • the dinosaur image.

At many IT chairs, there is still too little really in-depth knowledge of the mainframe. Therefore, when it comes to training, more must be done at schools and universities, including in IT specialist training.

Our discussion showed: More glaring than the training problem, which could be tackled by taking appropriate practical measures, is IBM's dinosaur image.

The crux: The reality is that the mainframe has the latest and greatest technology available, but many don't know it at all. This image has manifested itself particularly in the minds of many young managers.

IBM on the way to a new user experience

It is easy to imagine that the classic green and black screens put off every newcomer at first. Young people today are used to a completely different standard in terms of appealing GUIs and intuitive operation in their private sphere.

This has also been recognized at IBM itself and is therefore cooperating within the framework of the “Design Thinking” initiative with Apple for some time. There are already a number of design centers around the world in which industrial designers look at the problem, which is atypical for IBM, from a different angle and focus on the user perspective.

Also important: Young people need more opportunities to interact with the mainframe outside of their company. If you want to get to know Linux, you can simply download it from the web; this is much more difficult with the mainframe.

More workloads on the mainframe

In the future, many more workload transactions will come from mobile devices to the mainframe, such as Amazon orders. The data generated by these transactions must be used. This requires new tools that make it easy to access data, analyze it and link it with unstructured information from various sources, social networks, etc., without complex PL2 programming and the like.

The mainframe in 2020, what will it look like now?

If you believe the expert look into the crystal ball, not too gloomy.

Wolfgang Maier: “For IBM, the mainframe is an extremely important market segment that will remain indispensable in the future. The mainframe will therefore be state-of-the-art in 2020 and a central component of modern corporate IT. "

Martin Bogdan: ... still at the forefront.

Wolfram Greis: ... livelier than ever when we get the three challenges under control: costs, training and image change. "

well then: "Dissolution of thick fog, a slight silver lining" would be the long-term weather forecast for IBM.

Tags:User Days 2015 | Mainframe

Thomas is Senior Manager Marketing at Beta Systems. While working at market leaders Coca-Cola and Lidl, he was infected with the tech bug and moved rapidly into the software world, working for leading ECM and IAM companies in Marketing, Channel Sales and Product & Solution Management., With a strong focus on business processes and data center solutions at large clients.
He is able to rapidly understand and articulate how technology can solve specific business challenges: for sectors, channels, prospects, teams ... and bring all stakeholders on board. He is someone who gets the job done - and then some.