50 Years of the IBM Mainframe: What We’ve Learned (Part 2)
Last week, we celebrated the birthday of the mainframe which, come to think of it, is just slightly younger than I am at 50. The System z (as it’s currently called) continues to be an incredibly and surprisingly successful platform for IBM because it was able to evolve. Tech-nologies that didn’t evolve failed. In fact, the main lesson to remember is that in the tech-nology industry, there is one uncontestable rule: evolve rapidly or die.
Mid-range computers, the baby brothers to the mainframe, didn’t make it; BetaMax and VHS didn’t make it; modems didn’t make it, Token-Ring didn’t make it, DOS didn’t make it, Commodore and Atari computers didn’t make it, the Newton didn’t make it, Network Oper-ating Systems (Netware) didn’t make it, Palm didn’t make it. Even a once unbeatable mega company—RCA— didn’t make it.
The mainframe almost didn’t make it but mainly due to mistakes made, and then correct-ed, by IBM. Ironically, Sun Microsystems, the company that most aggressively tried to kill the mainframe, didn’t make it because management ignored or forgot that main lesson and didn’t evolve fast enough.
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NOTE: This column was originally published in the Pund-IT Review.