How mainframes change our lives

Everyone knows banks love mainframes, but these powerful computers are also used to power our homes, build our cars, facilitate our healthcare, and keep us entertained. If finance is not your cup of tea, there are plenty of other fields where skills in Big Iron can pay off big time.

Mainframes help power our homes
Credit: April

When people think about uses for mainframes, they often think of the financial and public sectors. And while it’s true that many banks and government agencies would have a hard time getting through their countless interactions swiftly and efficiently without the processing power of Big Iron. But mainframes handle more than just our interactions with governments and our money — they are used in many industries that influence and improve our daily lives in ways we often don’t even think about. Let’s take a look at several walks of life and businesses where we depend on mainframes every day, even if we don’t think about it.

Power: don’t get dressed in the dark

Our modern world runs on electricity, and electricity providers run on mainframes. Only Big Iron is dependable enough to regulate power generation and output, as well as monitor and analyze power usage across countless households within each provider’s power grid. Mainframes help automate power generation to be self-sufficient and reliable, ensuring people can wake up to their alarm clock or work late shifts.

Power companies of all sorts use mainframes, from green energy producers who use Big Iron to monitor production to fossil fuel extractors who rely on these robust computers to keep tabs on the function of their expensive machinery and the efficiency of transportation networks to maximize output, improve safety, and make sure consumer needs for power are fulfilled worldwide.

Getting around: mainframes help build our cars and fly our planes

The sorts of calculations that go into putting a car together on an automated assembly line are numerous and extremely precise, and fit to be stored, processed, checked, and double-checked only on a mainframe. Mainframe solutions also provide more robust security, keeping manufacturers’ intellectual property protected from hackers or leaks.

In the sky, airlines depend on planes built in this same way with the precision and processing power of a mainframe to reduce the risk of design back-ups and ensure passengers fly safe. Air traffic control also relies on mainframes to keep track of thousands of flights every day to organize, prioritize, and supervise safe landings.

Health care: from doctor to pharmacist

Providing healthcare in an urban center can be a logistical nightmare without the organizational muscle of mainframes to keep everything running smoothly. Hospital staff have been able to use mainframes to fully automate all and procedures to create streamlined and error-free processes, drastically cutting down on errors and IT overhead. Every step of a filing process that would have taken hours can be performed on a mainframe in seconds, and then run through business intelligence software to further hone the care provider’s efficiency.

Once patients have their prescriptions, they can head to their local pharmacies secure in the knowledge that transportation logistics companies rely on mainframes to arrange the distribution of products like medicines all over the world, moving between warehouses and store shelves with minimal delays. With advances in machine learning, mainframes will be able to scan transactions in real time to notice any negative interactions between the patient’s current conditions and medications to prevent their taking a new drug with a dangerous side effect.

Conclusion: entertainment and beyond

Mainframes don’t just influence power, travel, and healthcare, but change the way we relax and enjoy ourselves. Ticket retailers depend on mainframes to operate their online business and provide robust service, allowing attendees to choose their seats and keeping track of the rush when a new event makes tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. And when concertgoers head to concessions to grab a snack, they unknowingly rely on mainframe databases that help organize production and distribution for leading food and soda brands.

Mainframes are incredibly powerful computers capable of organizing and analyzing truly staggering amounts of data. It’s no wonder that all sorts of industries rely on Big Iron to stay organized and efficient. Not only is day-to-day life in the modern world dependent on mainframes, mainframers today can look forward to cultivating a highly sought-after skill set in fields beyond banking and finance.  

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