For the past two decades, the mainframe has been on a constant deathwatch with IT “experts” and analysts regularly predicting its downfall and extinction. However, the mainframe, both as a style of hardware and as a computing platform, has survived, thrived, and evolved to overcome each computing challenge it has had to face. And now the mainframe is poised to take on the new computing challenges of this century. It has the power to connect large dispersed networks, process mountains of data produced every minute, and provide the security and privacy companies and individuals demand.
Connecting the “Internet of things”
So far, most of what the Internet has done is let computers talk to other computers. The “Internet of things” refers to web-enabled devices, machines, and other objects, being able to ‘talk’ and share information about themselves and their environments with servers over the Internet. This “Internet of things” is already beginning to produce mountains of potentially useful data.
In the coming years the data generated from connected objects will increase exponentially. A viable system needs to be in place to accept, process, and interpret all that data in a useful way.
The mainframe is well suited to take up this challenge, since it is one of the few computing platforms powerful enough to crunch through vast quantities of data very quickly, performing millions of transactions per second.
Democratizing access to powerful computing
Thus far, mainframes have been the exclusive resource of large organizations. Up until now, data centers have been out of the reach of startups and individual developers. And then Amazon launched its web services, granting access (for a price) to its powerful computing resources. Now companies can spin up powerful cloud computing servers on demand.
It hasn’t happened yet, but it is not hard to imagine that mainframe computing will one day soon become an accessible technological resource for individuals and entrepreneurs. There is little doubt that access to mainframe computing will become available on demand to individuals in the future.
Since only large organizations have been able to afford them so far, mainframes have only been applied to solving the computing needs of large organizations. Opening up the platform to more developers will lead to more efficient mainframe utilization, as well as innovations in mainframe computing.
Security will become even more important
In a shared mainframe environment, the security tools of data encryption and multi-factor authentication will become more important than ever. Fortunately, this will not require much new technology to make work. Mainframe resources are already shared within an organization, with people accessing and managing it both inside and outside the company walls. And there already exists plenty of separation of resources. Mainframes are capable of running thousands of virtual servers, effectively balancing the workloads across the system.
Mainframes are also equipped with strong access controls. Multi-factor authentication provides a strong level of security that would make it as secure as any cloud-computing platform. It would even be as secure as any remotely accessible server would.
Most of this has been talk about some of the future possible for mainframes, but mainframes also certainly have the potential to emerge as the next evolution of cloud computing hardware.
However, if your organization is already using a mainframe, you know about the many indispensable uses it has today! You also know how damaging it would be to your organization if that data were breached, stolen, or lost. If you’re interested in learning about the ways you can improve your mainframe’s security through data encryption or multi-factor authentication, sign up for a free trial of one of ASPG’s security products today.