The History of the Mainframe

Mainframes still process approximately 70% of the world’s business transactions each and every day…

InfoSec’s management has been involved with mainframes since 1979 and as we all know now, they are not going away like many through they would. Seventy percent (70%) of all mission critical data is still processed by a mainframe every day. Back in the mid-1990’s the industry was deluged with reports of how the mainframe was dying due to the low cost of new pc/server based hardware. All of the trade magazines, news reports and more jumped on that band-wagon and had (almost) everyone believing that the mainframe was soon to be a relic and put out to pasture. This led to a shift of talent from the mainframe platform to distributed platforms. This is leaving a big gap in the talent required to continue to operate the mainframes in our agencies and businesses today.

Unfortunately, what people didn’t realize at the time was that while the new hardware was cheap, the software costs would skyrocket and the people costs would grow exponentially. Where we used to bring in an entire new mainframe and workload and not add a single systems programmer, DBA or operator, we’ve seen huge increases in staffing requirements to support these massive server farms.

To add to that, mainframes are designed to run at 100% utilization. We always felt that if we weren’t’ close to 100% (some capacity left for spikes in the workload of course), we were wasting the processing power. Servers on the other hand are not designed to run at 100%, but more like 40% to 50% capacity. So if it takes 100 servers to equal the processing power of a mainframe, you’d actually need 200 to have the same utilization capability.

So over time, what we have seen as we work with our customers is that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to move everything off of the mainframe to a distributed computing platform. In fact, we are seeing customers cancel migration off of the mainframe and move workloads back to the mainframe, taking advantage of the lower computing cost of the mainframe, better security and discipline, ZiiP, ZaaP processors and Unix/Linux capabilities.

Overall, the mainframe still provides the best overall enterprise-wide computing platform available and InfoSec is here to help you leverage your mainframe investment.


Schedule a complimentary consultation with our team of mainframe and security specialists today.