IDG Contributor Network: Mainframes 2026: What the future holds for big iron

For more than 50 years mainframes have powered thousands of organizations around the world, from banks to militaries to government agencies. Looking looking back at all that history makes me think about the critical role that big iron has played in the world, but it also gets me thinking about the future and what the next 10 years holds for the mainframe industry.

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What makes me so confident that mainframing even has a 2026 worth looking forward to? After all, hasn’t the cloud revolutionized data storage and processing and ushered in the end of mainframes? The truth is that not every disruptive development replaces what it disrupted—sometimes not immediately and sometimes not at all. Globalization did not kill American IT jobs, Metallica didn’t negate Van Halen, and the cloud won’t kill mainframes because mainframes have something that the cloud will need over the next decade: power.

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