Enterprising Developments

What, Exactly, is a 'Mainframe' These Days?

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, November 30, 2011

A couple of weeks back, IBM announced it was enabling Windows to be run within its mainframe system environments. The big box already has been running Linux for almost a decade now, and it also runs Unix. A couple of years back, Oracle and IBM announced an arrangement in which Oracle databases could be run on the mainframe box as well, supported by a Linux partition.

Which begs the questions: Where do you draw the line between distributed servers and mainframes? Is there even a line anymore?

This ought to be interesting news across the insurance industry, which still maintains many large mainframe installations, and will do so for a long time to come. Industry analysts and pundits often criticize the “legacy” base that still runs many insurance applications, but let's face it, the mainframe has evolved into a large, highly scalable environment that can handle the increasingly growing jobs coming our way. Big data analytics, high-transaction-level e-commerce, cloud support, intense mobile support—all functions that would bring many servers to their knees—are all relatively easy tasks for mainframe boxes.

And, as a result of IBM’s integration of Windows into the mainframe environment, Windows users now have access to mainframe-based security, scalability and storage resources.

The mainframe still has enormous costs to it, and as explained in an article by Bruce Hoard, such costs make the provisioning of new services expensive. This creates the need for creative strategies to adapt to new configurations, such as cloud. For example, CA Technologies reportedly cut some deals with insurance companies in which, “rather than charging them for millions of instructions per second, or MIPs, on the floor, it charges them for the number of new subscribers to their insurance policies, so if the number of subscribers goes up, CA is paid more, and if that number goes down, there's a renegotiation that reduces what CA is paid.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

With Google Favoring Mobile, Will The Industry Take it Seriously?

Google’s search engine will now will favor mobile friendly content over traditional website content; within the insurance industry, the greatest initial impact is likely to be felt by insurance distributors.

Why Some Technologists Get Cold Feet on Mobile

There are those who believe that favoring one channel or mode over another will lead to even more silos and dysfunction than we already have in many organizations.

Insurance IT Spending and Budgeting Benchmarks

New research from Novarica highlights areas of concern and offers insights on insurers spending and budgeting decisions.

Enterprise Mobilemania Continues Unabated

More than half of companies are spending more on developing mobile applications -- but are they more efficient?

Why Insurers Need More Than a Policy Admin System

For some insurers, not being able to handle the volume of quotes that are being submitted to them means leaving significant money on the table.

The Pitfalls of Using Assembly Line Methods to Create Software

Most of the time, when the business needs IT, it is for custom software development, just like creating a concept car.