Things are highly abstracted by modern day technology and we tend to assume that certain technology is dead simply because it is invisible to us.

These days almost everything exists as a service and with a series of clicks and a payment, you have access to dashboards and application programming interfaces that set you quickly on your way towards actualizing your product or service.

On the customer side, consumption is a browser or app away with no thought spared for the things and processes that it takes to make services hum. Riding on the 3rd era of computing which is predominantly cloud and mobile, SaaS – software as a service, BaaS – backend as a service, DBaaS – database as a service, PaaS – platform as a service, IaaS – infrastructure as a service and numerous other offerings are on demand, self-service and easy to manage.

"This abstraction has seen all service providers with a global vision or footprint own bare metal hosted in purpose built housing to bring simplicity to the fore."

The second era of computing was dominated by the client server architecture and informs our view of the World Wide Web. Its roots are in the local and wide area networks, where multiple users could from their terminals – PC clients, access resources or trigger tasks held in or done on a centralized computer – the server. Intranets were the in thing for the switched on corporates who ran their ERP’s, CRM’s and knowledge bases in what was the latest digital fashion.

Mainframes is where it all began, at least in the shape and form that we can appreciate today, a step up from the early basic calculators. It is also where the action still is for those discerning enough to understand that we are inextricably linked to this generation of computing where the big iron is the oracle, the single source of truth. Built for reliability, availability and serviceability many critical verticals such as financial services, logistics and utilities that touch almost every other industry still run on what is considered 1st generation technology. A power plant, national airline or security’s exchange can easily still be running off “aged” tech obviously adapted for a changing ecosystem.

The evolution of technology is certain and expected but it is never a under a pick and replace model. What we think are vestiges from our past still continue to play a pivotal role in our lives even as we innovate on what is next.

Cover Image, Mainframes | Robert Nix

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