Remembering back to the 1960’s when my Aunt Delores had given us kids some white plastic playful spinning tops with a Blue paper insert, emblazoned with the letters; I B M. I can remember her telling us how she got these from her workplace at the Savings Bank of Utica and how she was working with something called a Mainframe. At the time people had no idea what a mainframe really is and while today most people know its a computer, they lack any intimate detailed knowledge of how a mainframe works. As the fastest growing “dying platform” in the IT industry, Mainframe has an allure to many of us, the mainframe and the process wrapped around it were our roots for; innovation, structured operations and technical history.
Thinking back to that time, the computer power of one mainframe pales to the computer power of today's $1000 cell phone. As a mainframe programmer my Aunt earned $55 per week or about $1.37 an hour. (Todays’ mainframe programmer earns between $120,610 and $151,340 a year plus benefits.) And nobody really understood what she did, maybe that is why she ultimately became a teacher.
Back in the day a a typical 1960’s IBM 7090 mainframe leased in the range of $63,500 a month of course, that did not include any additional capital cost, electricity or people to run it. Today we purchase cloud subscriptions that entitle us to run certain number operations per second for a monthly rate.
We often like to boast (or complain) about how quickly the Computer Industry changes. Indeed technologically this is true. We have a lot of new programming languages since Cobal, we can process more information, faster, as well as transmit, store and manage staggering amounts of data. Mainframes started as building sized machines, privately operated on-premise in specialized rooms or buildings isolated to one location. Data Centers house thousands of physical machines that host millions of virtual systems and billions of callable functions and lambda’s.
Through phases of interconnected distributed systems, services to be consumed on a per use basis housed in even larger specialized data centers that host multiple clients from a mesh of centers interconnected around the globe.
as much as the technology has changed, many challenges have not
Looking back, as much as the technology has changed, many challenges have not. Furthermore the deep understanding, structured process and methodical approaches have given way to agile, minimally viable software product development approach has lead to some challenges becoming more significant.