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ASG Perspectives

Blog > April 2019 > So, Where Is My Flying Car and What Does This Have to Do with the Mainframe?

So, Where Is My Flying Car and What Does This Have to Do with the Mainframe?

When I was a kid, parts of popular culture predicted we were just years away from having flying cars, hover cars, something just like the Jetsons (and that starts to tell you how many years ago it was that I was a kid…).
 
rs-1024x759-170613132030-1024-The-Jetsons-George-Jetson-ms-061317.jpgSo, now (mumble-mumble) years later, I drive to work in a four-wheeled car that still looks a whole lot like those that rolled off assembly lines fifty or more years ago[1], and my flying car seems no closer now than back then (Terrafugia’s CGI notwithstanding). Why is this, and what does it have to do with the mainframe?
 
There are two principal reasons we all continue to travel using surface-based vehicles instead of those that fly:
 
  • Mass-market, surface-based vehicles have a better safety profile compared to the private flying cars currently available
  • Mass-market, surface-based vehicles are more economical than the private flying cars currently available
 
That is to say, for those of us who want to arrive at a destination with a high chance of doing so without injury and for a cost we are willing to bear, surface-based transportation still has an overwhelming advantage.  Now, please, don’t troll me – I am hopeful that Elon Musk will achieve his vision for Hyperloop travel, Larry Page’s Kittyhawk-produced Cora self-piloting air taxi will succeed in New Zealand, and all the other innovations seeking to enter the market will work out. I’m just observing that they have not yet.
 
The IT market is different, certainly, in that, while the earliest success in this arena – the IBM mainframe – is still around, there has been enough demand, enough innovation, and enough success that lots of different options and architectures thrive. And that’s a good thing. We all benefit from the Internet, cloud-based applications, distributed computing and mobile technology – you’ll pry my cell phone and tablet out of my hands only when I don’t have enough strength to hang on. However, the mainframe does persist and some of the largest, most persistently successful enterprises around the global have continued to keep the mainframe a critical centerpiece of their IT infrastructure. They would not do so unless:
 
  • It provided the safest means for high-volume, online, real-time transaction processing and
  • The most economical platform for that and other types of processing
 
The mainframe has proven, time-and-again, that it is one of the best, if not the single best, technology stack for processing huge volumes of data within continually narrowing windows, with low-to-no fault or failure. Many point to the success of online retailers that process solely on new technology, even defining what cloud Platform as a Service means (looking at you, Amazon), without realizing how much of their success is built on the largely mainframe-driven network of electronic payment authorization requests and payment clearing processing, Many enterprises have invested so much intellectual capital into committing themselves to the business rules that define their competitive advantage into mainframe programs that abstracting those rules and migrating them to another technology stack represents more risk and more expense than they are willing to bear. (See what I did there, did ya?  Tying back into that theme of safety & economy…)
 
From this, anyone should be confident predicting that the mainframe will continue to be part of the enterprise IT architecture ecology for a long time to come. The mainframe’s success has persisted for so long that it has begun to be the source of its own challenges. The most proficient mainframe professionals are reaching inflection points in their careers where they will not continue in the day-to-day workforce. This creates a vacuum – which we know nature abhors – and energetic staff are stepping forward to take on the day-to-day responsibilities of maintaining and advancing the mainframe. I had the good fortune of attending the winter SHARE user conference in Phoenix a few weeks ago and was delighted at the high number of mainframe professionals, early in their careers, attending and talking about their excitement for working with mainframe.
 
ASG Technologies understands this has impacts that we, as an independent software vendor, must acknowledge. Just as these energetic professionals have different tastes in music, live in different geographies and enjoy different sports and activities than those favored by the professionals whose shoes they will fill, they have a different relationship with technology, even if the foundation of the technology they work with has been around longer than any other. It is incumbent upon ASG, and all the vendors in this space, to give these professionals the best chance to be successful, proficient and rewarded custodians of the incredible value residing in the mainframe programs on which enterprises depend.
 
That’s why ASG Technologies is, and will continue to, investing in new user interfaces suitable for a mobile-yet-connected workforce; new integration interfaces so the mainframe participates in the broader IT ecosystems their enterprises require; and new models for interacting with the mainframe, even at its foundational infrastructure performance management level, compatible with these emerging mainframers require.
 
Stay tuned – watch for upcoming webinars, articles, and blogs from ASG – to learn more.
 
[1] Lots more cup holders, though – Yay!
Posted: 4/17/2019 9:26:20 AM by Jeff Cherrington
Filed under :IT, Jetsons, mainframe, systems, the