Sunday, November 30, 2014

Your Grandfather’s Technology

Recently one of my co-workers sent me an article on the mainframe. Now you gotta remember that I'm a mainframe guy. I was into mainframes when 256 kilobytes was a BIG system. I led organizations that bet the company on mainframes. And won. I love to write S/370 assembler!

The article got this right:
...the mainframe computer seems like your grandfather’s technology...
That's me. But...

This article is self serving. And, in my opinion, misleading.

Somehow CA Technologies, né Computer Associates, have gotten the Wired brand in the top right corner. But all of the references are CA Technologies.

A CA Technologies survey found "more than 75 percent of U.S. respondents and more than 80 percent of global respondents confirmed that the mainframe is a strategic or highly strategic part of their current and future IT plans."

But dig a little and you'll find that the survey respondents were "623 mainframe executives." Not exactly objective.

That many organizations are sticking with the mainframe doesn't surprise me. In my consulting role, I see over and over that organizations won't/can't invest enough to implement new open systems. I call these organizations "Dead Men Walking."

And CA Technologies got this right: "...some pundits say the mainframe can’t possibly remain relevant in the cloud computing environment, where vast amounts of computing power and storage are available for anyone to rent at relatively low cost."

And I don't think I'd have used this example: "mainframes are still the go-to technology platform when it comes to tackling big jobs, such as managing the database of a government agency..."

I can't figure where this statement comes from: "...mainframes are hard to beat when you’re trying to plan for unpredictable spikes in network usage." Unpredictable spikes are the nemesis of monolithic mainframe systems. Horizontally scalable systems are made for unpredictable loads.

While I don't disagree that mainframes will continue to be around for a while it won't be because they perform the job better. And the business risk of operating on a mainframe will continue until those businesses migrate or fail. Only time will tell which.

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