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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: Are there any mainframe uses, whether customer driven or not, that have surprised you?

A: One thing that’s interesting, and I don’t shock easily, is work we’ve been doing with the Brazil-based gaming company Hoplon. Using the mainframe in the gaming world strikes me as odd. It’s an example of a future direction, which is adding unique acceleration capabilities around some very specific things we want to do. In the case of Hoplon, they want the security because the game software is proprietary and gamers try to break things. They want security, yet they want capability of high-performance computing. So they combine the capacity of the mainframe with the cell processor for numerically intensive computing and voilˆ: you have the “gameframe.”

Q: Can you talk more to how the customer has changed? How has its mainstream adoption changed the mainframe?

A: Generally speaking, when I look back to the ’60s and ’70s, the mainframe first started as the key computing facility for large business. Today the mainframe has a very important role of being part of a much larger overall infrastructure. The mainframe is playing a key role, often as the security hub or the data hub within the enterprise, but it doesn’t own the whole enterprise. As a result, the mainframe has evolved from a closed-off view where we owned all the pieces, to one where a mainframe in your environment allows you to leverage other things in your environment in a more efficient way as well.

You might say customers had an important availability requirement back in the System/360 era. They still do. The difference is they were satisfied if they achieved a single 9. Now, customers want to run lights out; they want to be available 24-7. The impact of failures, because so much of their business is running on it, is immense. In the financial industry, a 10-minute failure at the wrong time of day can cost $500,000. Even though the requirement might sound the same, yeah it’s availability, the true requirement is much more stringent and that’s where we keep evolving.

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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