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Tech Industry

Old apps don't obsolete platforms make

You can have obsolete and difficult-to-update applications on any type of computer system. But one often still sees the mainframe term used to conjure up antique computing.

I got an early-morning laugh out of this post on Timothy Sipple's Mainframe blog:

Will the popular press ever get it right about mainframe-hosted applications? I'm still waiting, after seeing this one: "...the computer mainframe handling unemployment claims is 30 years old and won't take many more technical improvements."

I can guarantee that the State of Florida is not running a 30-year-old mainframe. And "won't take many more technical improvements"? What on earth do they mean by that? That the application is holding a picket sign and threatening to march on the state capitol building, angrily knocking on the doors of legislators?

Good grief, this is lame, Florida. Go appropriate some funds and develop whatever improvements you want already. Want to write new functions in Java (to pick something at random)? Go for it--you already have it (on that not-30-year-old mainframe). Geez!

It wouldn't shock me at all to hear that the state of Florida is running old and poorly documented applications written in some language with which few of their developers are familiar. But that is fundamentally an obsolete application issue largely orthogonal to the question of the platform on which it's running.

The press that deals with technology topics on a regular basis has (mostly) gotten hip to the fact that the world doesn't begin and end with small x86 servers and that "Big Iron," in its various guises--whether mainframes, RISC/Unix, or scalable x86--still has a big role to play.

Outside of tech industry media, however, one often still sees the mainframe term used to conjure up antique computing a la Desk Set.