At the beginning of the 1990s, many analysts had predicted the mainframe would no longer be in use by the start of 2000. On the contrary, it went through a modernization phase which proved it’s here to stay. The modernized mainframe can process 2.5 billion requests each day.
Many companies are still using the old version of the mainframe and have no plans to decommission it anytime soon. It is at the core of today’s e-commerce environment and is still one of the fastest computers ever made. Many people may wonder which industries are using the mainframe today.
Major retail stores
A lot of people may think the mainframe is obsolete, but the reality is that the mainframe is not dead. It is still largely in use by large retail businesses around the world. In the US, at least 23 out of the 25 big retail companies use the mainframe in their daily transactions. Most of them have traditionally used it for close to five decades.
Most retailers have chains of outlets spreading across states or countries. They process online orders from millions of clients every minute. They track deliveries online and manage their stock levels in warehouses and retail stores using modern technology. The stores receive payments from dozens of payment methods that must be processed fast and with utmost accuracy.
Retailers use Point of Sale software that helps with making claims, recording staff attendance, invoicing, accounting, and keeping accurate stock information. All these are processes that are done through remote servers located in multiple stores across states or countries. The best computer that can handle the millions of requests and queries done every second is the mainframe.
The banking industry
The banking sector is one of the industries that process the highest volumes of transactions daily. The modern mainframe is not just used to store records of the banks. It simultaneously performs multiple activities such as mobile banking, real-time analytics, fraud detection, and cloud support.
Nearly every business in the world has a bank account and performs multiple financial transactions daily. In developed countries, about 93% of citizens above 18 years have bank accounts, while the figure stands at 63% in developing economies. The mainframe is at the core of the main role of business intelligence due to its ability to generate enormous amounts of data daily. This data is analyzed to provide key insights to businesses.
The main types of transactions bank account holders perform daily are wire transfers, check/cash deposits, withdrawals, and online payments. The banks, on the other hand, process loans, and transaction charges, manage ATM withdrawals, and many other requests. Due to the millions of transactions banks process daily, they require a computer that provides high processing power to support all these functions. The mainframe has proved its worth in meeting this need without any issues. It has rapid processing power and is a reliable, resilient computer able to perform millions of tasks effectively.
The Healthcare industry has recently undergone tremendous technological changes. Healthcare specialists are adopting technologies such as robotic surgery, cancer immunotherapy, AI, machine learning, and IoT. Due to technology, patients can connect with doctors remotely for consultation. The sector has moved away from manual records to electronic. They claim insurance reimbursements online and send patient prescriptions and diagnosis results online.
Lately, many healthcare specialists have had to deal with court cases due to compromised health records. There are serious concerns about privacy, including compliance risks in the health sector. The sector handles sensitive patient information such as credit card information, billing information, telephone, addresses, and medical records. The mainframe is reputed for its ability to provide a secure platform. It is compatible with multiple types of software, such as the one that encrypts data to ensure maximum security.
The healthcare sector performs large numbers of transactions and processes daily. They connect with other healthcare institutions, insurance providers, banks, and multiple payment platforms. The mainframe can handle all transactions and requests effectively. It is reliable and experiences minimal downtime, which makes it a preferred choice for the healthcare sector.
For many years, governments have depended on the mainframe for their IT operations. Governments have critical departments such as defense, education, energy, agriculture, commerce, health, and homeland security. These departments are interconnected and consistently send and receive information from the main government offices.
Every department serves the public uniquely, such as processing passports, employing teachers, managing major constructions, and making payments. Beyond borders, governments communicate with other governments and embassies and manage international interests. Nearly all information handled by governments is sensitive and needs to be protected. They also need to have in place systems that process requests at high speed to save time and money.
The mainframe has proved to handle millions of transactions per second and to be one of the most secure computers. It is available whenever needed and will handle terabytes of data without experiencing downtime. This is one of the main reasons why governments around the world prefer using the mainframe. The computer can connect millions of remotely located computers in each government department around the world.
The aviation industry runs extremely complicated flight networks. They plan flights and crew in hundreds of airports around the world. They manage passenger reservations and complicated air traffic control systems. They schedule maintenance and collaborate with hotels and security/passport government departments worldwide.
The complex and sheer volume of transactions they handle daily requires a fast and highly reliable computer. The industry requires real-time information on weather patterns to advise the crew on safety and other protocols. The mainframe can handle enormous amounts of connections and perform straightforward tasks.
What does the future of the mainframe look like?
Previous mainframe generations relied on transistors and integrated circuits to perform tasks. The modern mainframe uses microprocessors to handle high volumes of connections and transactions. Mainframe manufacturers are currently in advanced phases of research. They want to create a mainframe that uses AI and quantum computing which will place it at the core of future technologies. As current industries expand and new ones arise, the need for reliable technology provided by the mainframe will be required.