Sunday, 27 July 2008

More mainframe futures?

Sometimes, writing a weekly blog means that only half the story gets published at a time. And Steve Craggs from Lustratus was very quick to pick me up on the fact that my article about the future of the mainframe a couple of weeks ago focused on data and not on applications. And he was quite right to do so.

Steve said: "Wile I agree with your conclusion that the mainframe will continue to contribute important business value in the future, I think you do it a disservice positioning it as simply a store for data" He continues: " see at least equal if not greater value coming from the mainframe as an APPLICATION store – all those trillions of dollars of investment can continue to deliver returns".

I completely agree. Not only is your data safely stored on the mainframe – which was the focus of my blog, but the mainframe also runs lots of high-performing applications that, with the growth of SOA (Services-Oriented Architecture), can be made available to customers, business partners, etc over the Internet. Accessing data is very important, accessing it in a way that maintains security and offers high performance has got to be a plus – and this clearly is what the mainframe is capable of delivering.

Steve Craggs also, helpfully, suggests that a best-of-breed functionality guide to determine what is needed in a tool that makes mainframe applications available in a distributed environment, preferably as an SOA service is available at This will certainly help any site starting to evaluate various vendor solutions.

Some time ago I did mention that the acronym SOA was said by some cynics to stand for Same Old Architecture! Now people are talking about WOA (Web-Oriented Architecture) as a possible way to deliver something similar to SOA, but in a more lightweight fashion. Kind of SOA meets Web 2.0!

In essence, WOA describes a core set of Web protocols (fairly standard things like HTTP and XML) that are scalable, interoperable, and dynamic. WOA makes use of REST (REpresentational State Transfer), which is a way of using HTTP as a Web service.

So, going back to the mainframe, my conclusion is the same as last time, but strengthened and reinforced by Steve Craggs' comments. The mainframe can not only look after your data, it can make applications available across the spider’s web I described in my earlier blog.

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