MAINFRAME > TRENDS > z/OS

Complete 360

After 45 years, innovation brings the mainframe full circle.

After 45 years, innovation brings the mainframe full circle.
Photography by Chip Williams

Q: What are some of the major changes or innovations you’ve seen in the mainframe over the years?

A: People seem to think of the mainframe as a static entity that hasn’t changed in a long time. Nothing could be more incorrect. The mainframe continues to evolve very substantially and has since its inception 45 years ago. People see the industry moving ahead yet don’t understand the level of innovation that’s occurred in the mainframe.

Talking about virtualization, the mainframe invented virtualization and holds many of the patents involved in the concepts of virtualization: the notion of a virtual machine, the notion of having a completely shared I/O set of resources. Those things indicate the kind of innovation that occurs in the mainframe. If you use Windows* operating system and many times see a blue screen, many of those problems are memory leaks that the intrinsic System z architecture with storage prevention prevent. When you’re looking at the blue screen, you should think of mainframe innovation and the fact that its storage protection and architecture prevent things like memory leak between individual users on the system at any one time.

The mainframe continues to evolve, really in every parameter. Just as processors get faster in alternative architectures, so do they in the mainframe. The difference being the design point in the mainframe is again one focused on sharing resources. So they have very large cache systems and high-performance memory systems, all designed to make the mainframe an outstanding resource to share across many users. Another parameter people associate with the mainframe, correctly so, is robustness. “It just doesn’t fail.” That’s a statement in the hardware, the OS and the middleware.

The nice thing about mainframe is we’ve developed relationships with customers. That’s driven us from a requirement standpoint. We continue to evolve the mainframe to meet the most demanding requirements of our customers. Long-standing customers continue to drive us forward. New customers in emerging markets like India and China realize the benefits of mainframe and we’re beginning to evolve to meet their requirements too.

“We’re listening to customer needs, understanding where technology is and going out to prove the mainframe is the place you want to be for your business to thrive.”—George Walsh

Natalie Boike is a former IBM Systems Magazine managing editor.


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MAINFRAME > TRENDS > z/OS

Complete 360

After 45 years, innovation brings the mainframe full circle.

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