Mainframe Computer : what is it and what is the future of this technology?

What is Mainframe? Who is this for? What are the advantages and capabilities of this technology platform? And what do new generation devices promise for the near future? To answer these and other questions, the CerPro Portal sought out experts from inside and outside the company.

We spoke with Giancarlo Rodolfi, Client for Z (Mainframe) architect, and Carlos Afonso Massiere, Mainframe specialist for Government Clients, both from IBM; and also with José Edson Marinho de Sousa, department manager of Serpro’s Data Center, responsible for services on the mainframe platform, and Sandro Ninin, Serpro’s Support analyst, specialized in large Java application servers in the mainframe environment. Check out the main excerpts from the interviews:

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1- What is the abbreviation for Mainframe? What is the specialty of this technology?

Giancarlo and Carlos (IBM) – Mainframe is a large computer that can host and run different applications on a single device. Example: I can run databases and application servers in the same environment, ensuring security and integrity, in addition to enabling integration scenarios possible only with this architecture. The mainframe has unique security, scalability, and resiliency characteristics.

José Edson and Sandro (Serpro) – Mainframe is a large computer dedicated to processing large volumes of data, with high performance, performance, scalability and security. Despite the title mainframe referring to the huge centralized structure where data processing was performed, over the years this server has been occupying less and less physical space and adding greater computational capacity.

Because it operates with specialized processors ( CPs, IFLs, zIIPs , among others), in addition to encryption, compression, network IO, disk IO , Java processing, Linux processing, for example, on the same machine, you get better times in online or batch transactional processing due to the efficiency in the distribution of tasks, optimizing the delivery of results.

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What problems did the mainframe computer come to solve?

Giancarlo and Carlos (IBM) – At the time of its conception and creation, the idea behind it was to create a platform that could perform all the necessary functions in a single device, connecting and integrating different peripherals such as, for example, disks, tapes and printers. This architecture, since its creation, guarantees the future portability of applications, protecting the investment made. The main advantages of the platform, its main features, are, as already mentioned, scalability, security and resilience.

José Edson and Sandro (Serpro) – At that time, the big question was how to process, in a centralized way, gigantic volumes of data, such as, for example, those that were used to make travel and launch of manned rockets viable. Currently, State structuring systems, such as Cadastros CPF, CNPJ, federal tax collection systems, import and export systems, transactional systems that allow online service to the population through the Federal Revenue Offices or the National Treasury Attorney’s Office, among many others, operate simultaneously with stability, security and high performance on Serpro’s mainframe platform.

An advantage to be highlighted is the ability of the mainframe to operate within the same environment, the same computer, different processing loads, transactional, batch, linux, encryptions, etc., simultaneously and with a high standard of performance.

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3- What are the advantages of this platform nowadays? Does it still have a lot of use in the market?

Giancarlo and Carlos (IBM) – As mentioned before, the protection of the investment made is one of the biggest advantages of the platform. This environment, which has been in existence for over 55 years, is unique in the world of information technology, is constantly evolving and fully integrated with current technologies such as cloud and artificial intelligence. In addition, for about 20 years, the mainframe has run Linux natively and has made investments in open source, being a platform that has a performance differential and consolidation potential, being economically competitive for several applications, such as databases and applications.

José Edson and Sandro (Serpro) – The mainframe platform has total adherence, adds value and optimizes results for systems that require a high level of security, stability, encryption and high performance. I also see this platform as being completely suitable for systems with massive features in calculations, such as banking systems and airline systems, whose access volumes are in the region of millions of connections; or for companies that need to operate with systems that make use of large volumes of processed data, in the order of billions of transactions per month, Serpro being included in both cases.

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4- What does IBM have planned for the platform? What role is reserved for mainframes in the future?

Giancarlo and Carlos (IBM) – The future of the mainframe is to be a protagonist in the digital transformation that is currently taking place in companies, mainly cloud, artificial intelligence and encryption, with its main characteristics of performance, security and high availability ensuring continuity and preserving investment .

Investments in mainframe in recent years have been focused on supporting the transformation that our customers are going through, through integration solutions and open technologies. IBM’s strategy is to become the largest hybrid cloud and multi-cloud provider. The new applications being developed by our customers are already being born in the cloud and, in many cases, the data resides on the mainframe. We create integration solutions to make this process faster and more transparent, inserting the mainframe into the Devops development belt, be it traditional loads or emerging technologies such as Kubernetes, Containers and Microservices.

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5- What are the plans of Serpro to use the mainframe platform?

José Edson and Sandro (Serpro) – Serpro is analyzing scenarios that will culminate with the growth in the use of mainframe technology, starting to position itself, even more, as a reference in the use of these computers. We have studies that will put the company on another level of connectivity, availability and scope with the integrated use of virtualization, clouds, containers, legacy and innovation walking side by side, High platform and Low platform with systems interacting between the two worlds efficiently and performative. Projects such as DC 3.0, Datacenter 3.0, and PLIN, an API Integration broker, are a milestone in the direction of the integrated future and structured growth of Serpro’s mainframe platform.

We expect, for the near future, to have two new mainframes in local DR (Disaster Recovery), either active, active or active, passive, that is, within a radius that does not add latency problems in order to allow RTO (Time Recovery) close to zero and RPO (Time to Data Loss) zero, plus a third machine for remote DR. The first two, due to the proximity of their installation, will be able to produce services in HA (High Availability), leaving the third for Business Continuity Management ( GCN) , in the event of a disaster that leads to the loss of the cluster in local DR.

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