Current value in government’s use of aging mainframes

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Naomi Eide, senior editor of CIO Dive, discusses the current use of mainframe computers, and why replacing them is very difficult for certain sectors.


The government’s use of 50-year-old mainframes has become a punchline in the world of federal IT, but the ancient technology is persisting. Naomi Eide, senior editor of CIO Dive, says that there are many reasons why migration away from the technology is proving to be difficult.

 

“It was far easier to put these systems in that could handle these transactions in bulk, and they kept running. They have a 99.99% uptime.  Institutions that have bulk transaction processing came to rely on them; government, insurance, banking sectors. It turns out they’re hard to get away from,” Eide said. “When you go to an ATM, you want to be able to take out your money, you want those systems to be reliable. A mainframe is underlying that architecture… it’s 2019 and we’re still talking about modernizing systems that went into place in the 1960s. It seems a little beyond the norm.”