Mainframes In Digital Transformation: Why Mainframes Still Matter In Digital Acceleration

Mainframes In Digital Transformation: Why Mainframes Still Matter In Digital Acceleration

In today’s age of monotonously growing technological transformation, several companies are using different emerging technologies to optimize their work.

As a result, companies that use digital acceleration are at a great advantage since they can benefit from greater efficiency, better customer care, and more sales.

global mainframe market

In 2021, the global mainframe market has been valued at 6018.3 million USD.

Mainframe systems have been used since the very beginning of cloud computing and cloud services. It may seem like they have gone down in popularity, but many companies still use mainframes that work well with their projects.

They were initially based on programming languages used to develop them, but this is not the case anymore.

Hence, while companies hire new programmers, they are often not familiar with the old programming languages.

Due to this, several business owners question the importance of mainframes in digital transformation today.

Although with so many new programming languages and systems in the market today, mainframes still play a crucial role in digital acceleration.

This article will enlighten you about what mainframes are, the benefits of using them, the challenges associated with them, and what the future holds.

What Are Mainframes?

Mainframes are computers used by enormous enterprises for higher applications such as working with bulk data and operating mission critical tasks such as resource planning, computer stats, and gigantic transaction processes.

Developed during the mid 20th century, mainframe computers contain a CPU (Central Processing Unit) housed by the cabinet.

The main difference between mainframes and smaller computers is that mainframes are mainly used for processing more extensive data.

Mainframe modernization are known for their speed of processing data, their cost, and the type of software and programming language they use.

Depending upon the size, the mainframes built initially required specific heating, cooling, and a specialized power supply to run smoothly.

As a result, they are known for processing higher input and output volumes, great computing speed, and larger storage capacity.

Due to the excellent power supply and larger storage capacity, mainframes are fundamental for the challenging needs of larger enterprises.

For example, a sizeable scale business may have several business functions running at the same time. Mainframes can be very useful for such operations.

Mainframes can be very important for the digitally transforming world today. However, before jumping into their importance, let’s closely look at what digital transformation is.

What Is Digital Transformation?

What Is Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can be different for every company. In general terms, digital transformation or acceleration is incorporating digital technology in all aspects of a business agility.

This can impact the way a business conducts its operations and convey value to its customers. Digital transformation calls for necessary experimentation and getting used to downfall.

This means eliminating the use of processes and goals the company was initially built upon and focusing on new ones in proximity to future trends.

Digital transformations begin with a transparent purpose. For example, the aim of your organization may be to improve customer service, come up with new strategies to increase revenue, and enhance profits. Business owners and entrepreneurs perceive digital transformation in several ways.

When discussing digital transformation, it is essential to understand what it means and your company’s stance towards it.

When framing conversations around digital change, it is vital to be aware of all the aspects and areas related to it

What Is The Importance Of Mainframes In Digital Transformation?

Mainframe computers play a crucial role in conducting the daily operations of almost all large-scale enterprises.

While businesses may be using other forms of digital computing, mainframes have a central role in today’s entrepreneurial environment.

For example, healthcare, finance, banking, and insurance industries use mainframe computers to build modern business operations.

Mainframe is gaining back its popularity due to its highly reliable operations and longevity. Research has shown that mainframes have been used by 71% of large-scale enterprises.

Due to the careful technological transformations made in the system since it was first initiated, no other computer has proven to be so evolutionary and continuous while being extremely compatible with other releases.

As a result, big information technology enterprises often use mainframes to conduct the most critical applications.

For example, customer order processes, payroll generation, inventory control, financial transactions, and other workings.

Mainframes used today look much similar to traditional computers with a more advanced approach towards conducting operations.

For example, a large corporation that relies on stability and reliability will often use mainframe computers to host databases of their customer accounts. The transactions can be done from thousands of different ATMs.

Mainframes have become a standard solution for processing vast amounts of data. With the ability to process a wide variety of credit card transactions and handle billions of business transactions per day, mainframes have become the core of business operations today.

For becoming old-fashioned and outdated, the usage of mainframes is expected to grow shortly. However, replacing mainframe technology can prove to be very costly for some businesses.

Keeping the downtime needed for installation, troubleshooting, and data migration in mind, removing mainframes can be expensive. Moreover, training staff on the new system will also add up to the costs.

Mainframes have become extremely vital for businesses today due to the following reasons

  • They handle substantial bandwidth communications
  • Manage information in bulk. For example, terabytes of data in databases
  • Perform big-scale transactions (Thousands of credit card and ATM transactions in a single second)
  • Compatible with thousands of application programs that have easy access to several large scale resources

Here are some other reasons why mainframes are essential for businesses today:


Using mainframe computers is very secure. Handling data securely and privately is one of the most crucial goals of any business firm.

Data such as customer account information, contact listings, and employee information must remain secure and private at any cost.

Managing this data must be protected and reliable and only available to users authorized to see it.

Mainframe computers have excellent capabilities to share and keep the data safe and secure at the same time. In addition, these systems ensure that the data is kept secure among multiple users.


It is often said that in the IT industry, the only constant changes. Therefore, when businesses produce positive results, it often triggers growth in the IT infrastructure to meet the new industry demands.

The scalability of a specific computing platform determines the extent to which an IT industry can add capacity without disturbing the natural business processes.


Customers of mainframe have a substantial financial investment in their data centers and applications. As a result, some data has been improved over time.

For example, various applications used in mainframe computers may have been written several years ago, while some may have been reported recently.

Mainframes have exceptional compatibility across years of changes and enhancements in the business world.


Reliability has always been an essential aspect of data processing. Therefore, when saying that a computer system has RAS properties, we mean that the system design is placed t a higher priority at all times.

RAS is an outstanding design feature in all areas of the computer system and its applications.

Challenges Of Using Mainframes

Despite the importance of mainframes and their continuous need in conducting large-scale business operations, they have several advantages.

Here is a list of some of the challenges of using mainframe systems:


Mainframes Cost

If we compare the cost to a regular computer, mainframe systems are pricey. The starting cost of a mainframe applications is higher than traditional computers.

This is usually because the software licensing fees and maintenance costs of mainframe systems are very high.

Moreover, the software development and hardware used in the systems make it pricey. The average cost of mainframe systems is around $750,000

Therefore, a typical computer user may not be able to afford a mainframe system. Only many organizations that are large-scale can afford and install mainframe systems for increased compatibility with their advanced features.


Installing a mainframe system is often challenging. This is mainly because installing the hardware components requires much time and effort than installing standard hardware components.

In addition, the hardware’s critical component of mainframe technology are larger than those of traditional computers.

Additionally, mainframe applications need different operating systems that are unique from a conventional O/S system.


Apart from installation, the physical size of a mainframe system is a critical disadvantage. Mainframe application typically take up a lot of space. The size may be similar to that of a refrigerator.

However, the size of mainframe systems has become smaller compared to the older, initial versions.


The maintenance of mainframe computers is challenging. Regular staff members and IT professionals cannot do it.

When handling development operations, it may be necessary to debug the system. Again, staff that is experienced at handling mainframe systems may be able to pull off this job.

Environmental Limitations

There are specific environments in which the mainframe systems must be placed to function effectively. For example, they must not be placed in environmental temperatures that are too hot.

If mainframe computers are stored or placed in more desirable environments, it may cause the system to lag and hang. To prevent these problems. It is essential to keep them in cooler temperatures.

Requirements Of Resources

Mainframe systems usually come with advanced features. This means that such mainframe systems will require more resources than a traditional computer would. The greater the consumption of resources, the higher the overall expenses will be.

What Does The Future Hold?

future of mainframe systems

Source: Deloitte

Predicting the future of mainframe systems is a risky business. However, the current trends in the mainframe industry have made it easier to predict their future.

People have been predicting the demise of mainframe systems for years. So far, these predictions have proved to be wrong.

While the roles of mainframes have changed over the years, they remain essential in several large-scale businesses that require the handling of bulk data.

This has made it transparent that mainframes will stay in the market and grow in popularity over the next decade.

When hearing mainframes, you might think about gigantic computers, but current digital advancements produce smaller, more compatible mainframe systems. As a result, these systems will continue to decrease in size as they advance in the coming years.

If you own a big company and your goals are focused on digital acceleration through RPA, you must not undermine the importance of mainframe computers for your business needs.

Despite their old age, the benefits of mainframe systems outweigh the challenges.

While some areas of the IT industry are changing, several companies are still relying on mainframe systems and will continue to do so in the future.

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Ryan is the VP of Operations for He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
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