Mainframes to Mobile

Long time back, when I was a kid I was told that big companies have Mainframes to do their computer processing job. I visualized the mainframe as a huge machine to store large data and for processing. But I was always curious, why our local desktops are so small but mainframes are so huge. I learnt from books that Mainframe programming involves COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) which was almost English. During those periods I was fancying myself around Quick Basic (some where around 1998-99). One thing that puzzled me at that time was why such a difficult language such as Quick Basic for small computer while a simple English based Language for a Mainframe.. The confusion remained till I joined job and I was asked to program for a mainframe system.

I have been watching the black - green screen of a mainframe terminal for almost two years now. The technology is still pretty static, and we continue to use the same COBOL and JCL to do most of our programs.

But, if we look around, we can see the world changing at a rapid rate. Mainframes are increasingly being replaced by small segment servers and Clusters. Grid is also coming up as an alternate to the mainframe, as it gives almost same level of reliability and computing power at a lower cost. Clearly, the computing power is now moving from larger machines to smaller machines (eg. Mobiles, PDA etc..) . These smaller computing devices are now offering a wide variety of features to the end-users that include games, internet browsing, chatting etc. Programming these devices have also become simpler by Java (J2ME) and .NET based Mobile Programming Languages.

A graduate coming fresh out of college has lot of dreams and aspirations in his mind. He wants to work in the latest of the technology - Web Technologies and Mobile Device Computing. Going and coding in mainframe is probably his worst nightmare.

Is it the end of Mainframes? No not yet. The large machine is here to stay for some more time, until the next generation technologies like Cluster Computing or Grid Computing replaces it. There have been attempts from IBM to revive the concept of consolidated computing, but the agressive push from the distributed computing group community (pioneered by Sun Microsystems) seems to be immense.

People may come up with many arguments to support and counter the cause of consolidated computing, but finally, it is always the business benefits that will and should drive the adoption of technologies. Depending on case to case basis, either of the approach can be adopted.


Abhishek said...

A very good blog Maddy, the best part I liked about it that unlike most others it was not a Copy Paste material but was something original and right from the heart.
Keep the gud wrk goin and keep the spirits rollin
wish u all the luck

Ahila C said...

Totally agree to ya! Though outta the Mainframes professionally, I am certain it's gonna stay for a while, though would certainly be affected by the upcoming technologies time & again.
I like the way you've spoken of it boy!