Important Features and Major Components of Mainframe Architecture

Mainframes are equipped with many powerful components to store huge data sets and perform complex and high volume business operations accurately and quickly. In this article, let us discuss about mainframe architecture, its features and components.

What is architecture?
An architecture is a combination of different components or a set of defined rules/instructions used to develop a product. In computing terms, architecture describes the structure of the system. Architecture can also be termed as a combination of different components that are connected to each other using relations and communicate with each other using interfaces.

Mainframe architecture
Mainframe architecture is a collection of different powerful components that are connected to and communicate with each other using relations and interfaces.

The architecture of the mainframe system is designed such that it can act as self-contained independent machine, part of distributed network, server, center of the network or hub, etc., based on the requirement. Mainframe architecture has underwent many changes since its evolution in 1964. Overtime it became powerful.

Important features of mainframe architecture
The most important features of mainframe architecture are reliability, servicability, scalability and security.

• Reliability – Mainframe components are thoroughly tested and are capable of detecting their own problems and recover from them without halting entire system.

• Servicability – Components can be replaced in case of any failure without impacting or with very little impact on running software or hardware elements.

• Scalability – Components can be added to or removed from mainframe system based on the requirement.

• Security – Mainframe components can store and share critical information of an organization securily.

Because of these features mainframes became crucial part of businesses like banking, finance, utilities, health care and other government sectors, where they handle critical applications and in high volumes.

Major components of mainframe architecture

So far we have seen the features of mainframe architecture. Now, let’s see what the major components of mainframe architecture are.

Mainframe architecture consists of many powerful components, such as

• Advanced processors

o Central Processor (CP)

o System Assistance Processor (SAP)

o Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL)

o System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP)

o Integrated Coupling Facility (ICF)

o System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP)

• Mighty storage devices

o Mainframe storage devices can store thousands of Tera Bytes of data.

• Components that are able to share data securely across the network in an organization.

• More advanced input and output devices and more efficient and faster channels of communication between software and hardware devices. For example, single z9 mainframe system can have 1024 individual channels for input and output.

• Ability to divide one system into many logical and independent parts called “logical partitions” (LPARs). They share processors, memory and input/output devices and run independently without depending on others and then later integrate to form a final structure. Earlier mainframe systems used to have 15 LPARs. But, latest mainframe systems are having 30 LPARs and more

• More advanced connections between input and output like LAN (Local Area Network) adapters with fast processing.

The architecture of mainframe system is well structured to perform the operations and tasks of big organizations without any issues. Its components are very powerful and communicate well with one another.

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