Now I don’t have an iPhone (yet), but as soon as my current contract runs out, I’m going to get one. And I’m waiting expectantly for the latest iPhone OS 3 announcements – which should be known by the time you read this. But what makes iPhones so great – apart from the fact you can make phone calls – is that they come with a zillion tiny little applets that let you do things you didn’t know you wanted to do. And now one of those applets lets you control a mainframe!
Now before you get too excited, let me say straight away that I’m not talking about an IBM mainframe. Sadly. It was Unisys that made the announcement. But if you can use it with Unisys, it seems only a small step to include z/OS, doesn’t it?
Unisys’s announcement says that it has expanded its line of ClearPath mainframe servers to include connectivity for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch devices.
One of the new offerings included in the update is the ClearPath ePortal Specialty Engine, which enables remote workers using Apple’s iPhone or iPod Touch devices to communicate with other ClearPath applications.
The devices can be integrated in a number of ways, including a plug-and-play capability that generates the iPhone or iPod Touch application interface; capabilities to customize Web-based ClearPath applications with an iPhone or iPod Touch look-and-feel; and integration of native iPhone applications with ClearPath services.
Now I haven’t touched one of their computers since the company was called Univac and the operating system was 1100, but I think that’s quite an exciting announcement. All mainframes, in popular opinion, are sort of dull-but-worthy products that are only operable by geriatric programmers who have devoted 40 years to understanding their arcane intricacies. Suddenly, they become accessible by the most exciting technology on the planet – a phone with so many gizmos that anyone over 14 is struggling to understand all of them.
It seems that, were IBM to embrace this technology, they would solve so many problems in one go. Firstly, the problem of an ageing workforce would be replaced by an almost too youthful workforce. Secondly, mainframes would become something that youngsters would talk about and therefore this would directly lead to more sales – because it wouldn’t just be for men (and women, of course) in suits, it would be for everyone.
So more sales and a youthful workforce, it would be almost like the 1960s again at IBM.
Plus – and this section is for conspiracy theorists only – it would allow IBM and Apple to get together and destroy all PCs and Microsoft. Well, maybe not!
The iPhone interface is so easy to use that making it a way to control a mainframe has got to be a winning idea. Well done Unysis.
But what next I hear you say, an iPhone app to fly an aeroplane or control a nuclear power station? Remember you read the idea here first!!