Mainframe vs Server Cloud Based Computing, Which Is Better?

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With businesses these days requiring more and more computing power, the question of where the power should come from often arises. The two common solutions for businesses today are cloud and mainframe computing. But why pick one over the other?



The mainframe computer is an age old legend. They have been around since the start of computing, and they continue to exist in upgraded form today. However, in the face of cloud computing, mainframes look like they will fully recede to the very niche market they resided in during the age of the dawn of computing. The biggest advantage of mainframes right now is that you already own one. If you don’t already own one, there is almost no reason to invest into one, as the solutions provided by cloud computing are often much more cost effective in almost every situation.


One benefit large companies enjoy about mainframes is the 100% complete control over their own data. When using cloud services, you are trusting a 3rd party company to not touch your data. With mainframes, you never need to worry about them snooping or touching your data. However, most large cloud companies are quite trustworthy and the chances of them doing something you don't want them to is quite small.

However, if you already do own one, there are definitely reasons to keep it. The cost of getting hundreds of thousands of lines of code transferred over would probably alone outweigh the benefits of switching to cloud. Also, mainframes have the capability to be customized and specialized more than cloud services can, as the hardware itself is in control of the user.  Mainframe computers can have nothing to do with your internet connection, which is good because it reduces bandwidth being used and allows for easy use even when the internet is down.



The cloud is an interesting new technology. First off, it tends to cost less than a mainframe, especially for initial purchasing costs (thus why I give the general suggestion of going cloud if buying new). It also allows for relatively harmless upgrades, as the companies who are competing with one another for your cloud space will likely upgrade just to keep their customers. Cloud technology also allows you to avoid maintenance costs and the other headaches that may come from a mainframe computer: the company you are using will have to do it to keep its customers. Cloud computing also allows for almost infinite portability: access to your work is only limited by your ability to access the internet.

One problem with cloud computing is its dependency on a fairly powerful internet connection, one that will hopefully never go down or go down as little as possible to be acceptable to justify the costs a connection outage would cost. If that is impossible, then a mainframe is probably necessary. However, this should be a rare problem, as most businesses today have good connections for other reasons anyways.


For a more in depth look at cloud networking, I actually wrote an article about it not too long ago.

Although the choice between mainframe and cloud technologies might be a tough one to make for those who have already invested in mainframe in the past, I can definitely suggest going to cloud if it makes sense, as I believe that the future is heading in that direction.


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