Up till now we've looked solely at distributed server technology to host business applications. The is another type used within larger organisations and financial institutions, Mainframe technology. What's the difference between distributed Server technology and Mainframe?
These are small (the size of a regular pc) cheap computers. Usually lots are used together to provide the processing power and resilience. If one node/server fails the other nodes will pick up its workload whilst that node is repaired or replaced. Distributed server hardware is made by many manufacturers. Distributed servers and associated technology is relatively cheap.
These are quite different. Mainframes are massive machines the size of wardrobes. They are built from the ground up with resilience in mind. The way the hardware, operating system and software are designed reduces errors. If a component in the Mainframe fails the machine will keep functioning. If you've ever built your own pc at home when working with distributed servers everything from hardware to OS is very similar. Everything in the mainframe is completely different. We will look at the hardware components in a Mainframe in a further post. Mainframes are powerful and also really expensive computers. The most popular kind of Mainframe hardware is made by IBM. IBM have the lions share of the Mainframe market, so much so that Mainframe is almost synonymous with IBM.
So Now we know what a Mainframe is, what it looks like and some of its characteristics but what is it good for? We'll have a look in the next post.