Mainframe can help businesses meet mobile challenges, says IBM

A 50th anniversary of mainframe event in New York reveals the future for the technology

An increase in mobile transactions is challenging businesses with a rise in costs to integrate new mobile applications, according to IBM.

During an event in New York to mark the 50th anniversary of the mainframe, Pat Toole, general manager at IBM System z, said despite the industry having claimed the mainframe was a dead man walking “it is still helping companies to grow and is moving towards cloud, analytics and mobile".

“The world is centred on mobile data now. Some clients have more mobile transactions than system transactions. This is a new era of the mainframe,” he added.

Toole said 50 years ago clients were challenged by how big the mainframe was and whether they could maintain an architecture which took up space on several floors of the business premises.  

“Nowadays, clients want help with global computing, transactions, mobile apps, hybrid cloud computing, lifecycle of data, predictive and current analytics,” he said.

Anniversary year

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Toole said the 50th anniversary marked his own 30th anniversary at IBM. 

“My father also worked at IBM for 37 years and worked on the first technology for the mainframe. I am excited to be part of the mainframe’s future,” he added.

Toole said the programme written for the mainframe in 1964 can still run on current mainframes.

Modernising the mainframe for mobile

To coincide with its Mainframe50 event, IBM announced updates for System z. The IBM System z solution for mobile computing is designed to aid customers with the increase of development and deployment of mobile applications and data.

A flexible pricing model for mobile mainframe clients has also been unveiled, allowing them to only pay for the capacity they use. IBM claims the new pricing model will offer a 60% reduction on the processor capacity reported for mobile transactions.

One IBM customer to benefit is First National Bank in Africa. When the bank created a series of mobile banking tools to tap into the increased use of mobile devices across the country, its transactions rose to more than 230 million a month. It needed an infrastructure that could support the increase in users.

Jay Prag, chief information officer, Hogan channel integration, at First National Bank, said IBM System z was chosen to handle the load.

“Mobile transactions have grown at an exponential rate as we expand our range of services, client experience and reach, far outpacing growth in traditional transactions,” he said. “The mainframe environment allows us to dynamically scale and grow in a cost-efficient manner.”

Other announcements at the mainframe event included storage and Hadoop offerings. Working with Veristorm, IBM announced zDoop software for Linux on System z, designed for avoiding staging and offloading mainframe data to maintain existing security and governance controls.

Flash for the mainframe has also been announced on DS8870, which IBM claims can provide 30 times the performance of hard disk drives, in addition to a new version of IBM CICS Transaction Server to enhance mobile and cloud support for CICS. 

It also announced IBM WebSphere Liberty z/OS Connect, which enables web, cloud and mobile access to z/OS assets.

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