Summer 1982 in Italy…the typical heatwave from that period, a sporting event many Italians will remember for the rest of their lives (a Soccer World Cup in Spain which ended with quite an unexpected victory for Italy) and a tune that was regularly playing on our radios and in our coffee-bars, the same bars you had to queue in to use the only public phone within kilometres… different times indeed. The tune playing was “Centro di gravita’permanente”(“Centre of Permanent Grativity”) by Franco Battiato: the song of a man looking for increased certainty to lean upon with the changing world around him.
Already at that time Franco Battiato felt that the world was evolving at an impressive pace. This was so ‘forward-thinking’especially before the advent of the internet that keeps changing our life and work-habits at incredible speed (and before “tweeting”and “re-tweeting”became work-related words in our daily vocabularies for example).
Despite the concern it expresses about a collective run against time that calls for adaptation, the same song still connects Italian hearts to pleasant memories of the “good old 80s”.
When I joined the Mainframe group in early 2002 I experienced a “cultural shock”after moving from the intel-based servers division of IBM. In the mainframe area we were exploring complex inhouse solutions built on top of IBM Middleware and Hardware technology, whilst the complexity of configurations and sets of products in our contract-proposals was huge.
Then –gradually –I came to better understand how the mainframe technology had flexibly and harmoniously evolved since it’s beginning in 1964, and how programming languages like Cobol and PL1 are so much in use in safe applications coordinating key data in a very structured and solid way. Also, how a relational DataBase like DB2 or hierarchical DataBase like IMS can safely store so much data in a mainframe, or how CICS/IMS TM continues to contribute so much to safe transactions around the world (just to cite a few examples!).
So the mainframe, more and more, came to my mind to represent that same “centre of permanent gravity”that we all need to safely protect our delicate personal information.
In a new century in which technologies change name or merge at incredible speed; in which once popular products are forgotten after a relatively short time and in which lots of people preach about “sharing this and that”our “privacy”becomes a more and more precious concept and the so young-looking 51 year old mainframe continues to protect important information for the benefit of citizens, private companies and major public institutions alike.
It is, I consider, a real “centre of permanent gravity”in terms of protecting our information from reaching the ‘wrong hands’.
For more information on this very secure technology that keeps evolving and rejuvenating with the current times please search also under “#mainframe”or “#IBMz”hashtags in twitter.
Editors Note: Luigi Tommaseo is a Mainframe Software Rep at IBM based in Ireland and despite his football allegiances being counter to mine, he is very definitely worth following on Twitter @ltommaseo