Mainframes At The Crossroads: Mainstream or Irrelevant?

by | Aug 5, 2016

The old and new worlds of information technology collided at the SHARE mainframe conference in Atlanta this week. Founded in 1955, SHARE bills itself as the oldest enterprise IT-centric user group on the planet – and from the buzz at the conference, many of the vendors as well as attendees have been in attendance for nearly that long.

Overall, however, the conference revealed a fault line of contradiction, as digital transformation-driven change breathed new life into many stories, while at the same time other vendors as well as attendees themselves languished in increasing irrelevance, as they remained content to focus on old ways of doing things.

Even well-known vendors like Oracle were content to pitch their tape storage technology – a remnant of Sun Microsystems’ acquisition of StorageTek in 2005, followed by Oracle’s acquisition of Sun in 2010. And Oracle wasn’t alone. Tape – yes, tape – was the talk at several vendors’ booths.

Various attempts to bring the mainframe into the 21st century were also on display, starting with Linux. The three primary flavors of Linux on the mainframe – Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu – were all touting their wares, and IBM was hyping its all-Linux LinuxONE mainframe.

Follow the Buzzwords

Linux wasn’t the only modern terminology in evidence. Some vendors were touting cloudas having something to do with their products – although when pressed, they couldn’t differentiate between cloud and virtualization.

Another popular buzzword: REST. REST is a lightweight, web-centric approach to integrating software that is now well-established in the distributed computing world, but is still relatively novel in the mainframe context.

Pushing its RESTful wares: GT Software. “In production, American Airlines used a REST outbound call from the mainframe using GT Ivory,” according to Dusty Rivers, Director, z Systems Software, GT Software. Exposing mainframe functionality and data via RESTful interfaces is relatively straightforward, but outbound calls are trickier.

Yet, while some enterprises have achieved notable successes with Linux on mainframes, at SHARE the reaction to the open source operating system was mostly yawns, punctuated by occasional curiosity about whether this platform would be suitable for Blockchain deployments.

Read more of this article on Forbes’ website