What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Mainframe Computers?


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Rosie Normanton answered
What is a Mainframe Computer?
Mainframe computing was once the only available method of processing vast quantities of data.

Dumb terminals (which were little more than screens and keyboards) were used to connect to the mainframe - to issue instructions, or add and retrieve data.

The rising popularity of client-server systems (which began in the 1990s) has eaten into the market share of mainframe systems. However, due to their reliability, mainframes still support business-critical information systems - for banks and insurance companies, for example.

Traditionally, a mainframe consists of numerous machines linked together in a centralised location. However, these days, a mainframe is best characterised by the style of operation - which involves a centralised control of resources, with detailed operations procedure manuals, and staff who've received dedicated training with the system.

In contrast to supercomputers, mainframes are designed to run many applications and serve many users simultaneously.

Advantages of Mainframe Computers
  • Supports thousands of transactions per second.
  • Can serve thousands of users and applications simultaneously.
  • Able to manage huge amounts of data.
  • More reliable and secure than client-server networks.
  • Backwards compatibility with legacy mainframe software, which is useful if your organisation has already invested heavily in mainframe computing.
Disadvantages of Mainframe Computers
  • Requires backwards-compatibility with Mainframe Operating Systems.
  • Dedicated staff are needed to run the system.
  • Initial start-up costs can be high, compared to client-server networks - which can start small and be expanded later. A small client-server system might be all you need.
  • By default, there is no geographical distribution built into the system, and this is something that client-server networks are designed for.
  • They can take up a lot of space and require dedicated environmental management, for example, cooling systems.

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