For the past 50 years, the mainframe has been the technological workhorse enabling government policy and business processes.
In fact, 80% of the world's corporate data is still managed by mainframes.
In a video interview with Computer Weekly's Cliff Saran, IBM Hursley lab director Rob Lamb said the mainframe has kept up with the shifts in computing paradigms and application systems, such as the move to the web and mobile technology.
"The platform is continually reinventing itself to remain relevant for cloud and mobile computing and to be able to run the most popular application server packages," he said.
Yet while it appears to be middle-aged technology, in terms of reach it seems the mainframe touches almost everything in modern life, according to Lamb.
“If you are using a mobile application today that runs a transaction to check your bank balance or transfer money from one account to another, there is a four in five chance that there is a mainframe behind that transaction," he said.
And the amount of processing run on the mainframe dwarfs the internet giants. "Every second there are 6,900 tweets, 30,000 Facebook likes and 60,000 Google searches. But the CICs application server, which runs on the IBM mainframe, processes 1.1 million transactions per second – that's 100 billion transactions a day," he said.
IBM will be formally celebrating the 50th anniversary of the System/360 mainframe on 8 April 2014.