When we’re busy running a data center and meeting internal company guidelines, it can be easy to forget what we’re trying to accomplish for the business and the best approach to meet those goals. It helps to reflect on history to put things in context. What we do now is really the culmination of thousands of years of work by millions of minds. Let’s explore that history and how it led to where we are today.
When humans lived in caves and hunted animals for food, 40 years was a long lifespan. Archeologists tell us that at some point, people started to change and extend their life span by farming. A brilliant agricultural innovation was the assembly of “computational” devices to predict the best times to plant and harvest crops to improve yield.
These first “computers” were in the form of sun dials, stone circles (think Stonehenge), or even pyramids. This information was valuable, but time-consuming to generate, limiting time to grow crops and forcing farmers to barter it in exchange for food, shelter, and clothing.
As the barter system developed, methods of protecting intellectual property, such as encoding it, were needed to prevent people from stealing information without paying for it. These processes were refined over many generations, and then Greek society built a robust model that remained fundamentally unchanged for several thousand years.
Today, the details of promises are captured in contracts, including money. In fact, if you read the small print on paper money, you’ll see, “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private” or “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of xx.”
Great care is taken to ensure that contracts are fair and enforced. Money now has a wide range of built-in, anti-fraud devices, including special paper and dyes to carefully constructed artwork and woven-in strips. Lawyers pour over the wording of written contracts to ensure their intent is clear and agreeable to all parties involved.
In today’s digital world, billions of contracts are negotiated daily. But the basic rules haven’t changed. The legal system and the business community look to the facts of a contract to resolve disputes. Governments and the global business community are implementing ever stricter governance regulations and compliance requirements to ensure that electronic contracts are as valuable as paper contracts.
As these new levels of control are put in place, the overall complexity of running information technology grows and it becomes harder and more expensive to meet expected levels of performance and reliability.
In this new world, the mainframe shines as a beacon, leading the way as the most cost-effective, reliable, and efficient platform for centralized and standardized processing. Once seen as overly bureaucratic, the mainframe is now considered the simplest choice for agile, cost-effective, and reliable business processing. In many ways, the drive toward stronger governance has leveled the playing field, with the mainframe standing out as a great choice for new areas and workloads. However, the mainframe still faces some challenges in perception and reality. There needs to be clearer paths to overall cost-efficiency, rejuvenation of the workforce, and fast implementation of new business.
The mainframe has been synonymous with business processing for the last 30 years. With the direction business and mainframe management technology are taking, the mainframe’s future is, if anything, going to be stronger and longer than its past.