Mainframe computers are often thought of as ancient machines — in practice, dinosaurs. But mainframe computers, designed for the purpose of processing huge amounts of data, are still very important today. If they are dinosaurs, they are T-Rexes, and desktop computers and server computers are lousy mammals that can be trampled underfoot.
It is estimated that there are 10,000 mainframes in use today. They are used almost exclusively by the world’s largest corporations, including two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies, 45 of the world’s 50 largest banks, eight of the 10 largest insurance companies, seven of the 10 largest global retail companies, and eight of the 10 largest telecommunications companies. Most of these mainframe computers come from IBM.
In this explainer, we’ll take a look at the IBM mainframe – what it is, how it works, and why it’s still going strong after more than 50 years.