Mainframe Computers and Why They Matter

Mainframe computers are powerful machines that enable our society to run the way it does. The last ATM you acquired cash from was a mainframe. Many people believe mainframes to be outdated and a thing of the past, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.These computers are much more than an outdated device as we head into 2013. They have their own place in the tech world, just as other computers do.

There are five key features of a mainframe computer that make it a crucial advancement, and mainstay, within the IT universe.

1. Multitask Ability

Mainframe operations enable businesses to perform many large processes at the same time. This is a trait that makes mainframes ideal for large companies, government organizations and institutions like banks. They can complete an unbelievable number of calculations quickly, over and over for long durations. Certain characteristics make them different from other machines.

For instance, when compared with a supercomputer, a mainframe can perform many tasks at once whereas a supercomputer is usually installed to perform one. Mainframes specialize in mass data transfer, sometimes involving millions of users that involve things like addition and subtraction. They perform large long term tasks that require secure transmission of data to, from and through a central location.

Mainframe Computers

2. Durability and Reliability

Mainframe performance and the machine itself are incredibly durable and reliable. Computer failures are frustrating on a personal level, and on a corporate level any botch can be catastrophic. Certain businesses and government operations need to have multiple processes going all day and all week to survive. If something like a bank account is not accessible when it needs to be, business can crumble.

These computers can last ten years or more without having anything go wrong with them, and this durability is due to well executed advancements involving the specifications of the machine. This is unlike a server farm situation or a personal CPU, where it is a frequent occurrence that server breaks down or the system is mis-configured.

3. Efficiency

Mainframes are more energy efficient than competition such as server farms. Not only do they perform the job with higher reliability, they do so from a centralized single unit. These computers use less energy per unit of production than a cluster of servers because the energy is being focused more specifically.

They are also replaced far less than other servers, and require less physical components overall. This helps the IT budget and also limits impact on the environment due to wasted energy and material.

4. Security

Mainframes are secure with regards to the information that is stored and passed through the computer. They are more secure than a cloud storage farm because the internet is not required to access the mainframe. When someone accesses a cloud, like with Facebook, they trust Facebook and the internet provider to prevent intruder access to information.

In addition, if an internet connection fails, any information on Facebook is not accessible to the user within that connection. With mainframes, internet connection is not directly related to the access of information. This inherently creates a more secure form of storage for vital information.

5. Return on Investment

Mainframe cost can be expensive up front, but if used to potential will easily pay itself off and be a better financial decision than several small computers performing the same role. It’s hard to argue cost when the computer being discussed performs with such high levels of accuracy and consistency.

A good example of how this specific computer can be a good return on investment relates to labor force. Where a server farm has to employ many employees to look after the many servers and connections, mainframe monitoring and maintenance is far less frequent. Because of their central location and single source build, less staffing and labor scope is required to monitor them.

Mainframes are the epitome of progressive and reliable technology. The main producers of the machines relied on many small technological advancements to ensure the stable growth of the product’s efficiency. This has led to increased backward compatibility, which is another key reason for the continued use of mainframe computers in our society.

Every creation in the technology world has a motive, or product innovation and invention would not exist. Some products are utilized more than others, but all serve a purpose that someone improved or created. Mainframe computers are a technological apparatus that has lived long past expected lifespan.

In the technology economy, sticking around past an expected lifespan is nearly unheard of. People are always finding new ways to improve on an existing product or create something new.

Mainframes have survived in surprising fashion. The reason is functionality and performance and every person who utilizes technology in America should appreciate the magnificence of these computers. They are responsible for the control and communication of many large scale important information such as bank records, payroll and inventory statistics.

Grant Davis is a Data Modeler by trade and a writer by passion. His interest in computers started when he used a joystick to play Star Wars on his ancient PC. When Grant isn’t cleaning his computer screen he writes for BMC, a leading mainframe capacity planning provider.

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