NASA announced this week that it was shutting down its last mainframe which generated a few memories. The first mainframe computer that I ever worked with was an IBM 360. Granted, I was not allowed to touch it, but after teaching myself FORTRAN, I was provided time to run research programs. Yes, we not only needed permission to gain access to this new computing power but we had to schedule time to do so. Most of the programs I wrote completed quickly and I got access on a regular basis. Yet, if NASA, who runs some very powerful programs, no longer needs a mainframe then who does? Surprisingly, a lot of applications and business functions continue to be performed using mainframes. Mainframes remain a mainstay in banking, finance, healthcare, insurance, utilities, government, and a multitude of various enterprises. One of the least known but important financial networks, SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), employs a network of fault tolerant mainframes to process international transactions between large banks and financial institutions. Therefore, while it may seem as though we have seen the last of the mainframes that is not the case. However, with the advent of smaller very powerful servers and blades, the manner of computing has changed forever. VoIP embodies this new definition of computing which combines the elements of personal computing (smart phones, PCs, laptops) with servers (IP PBXs, routers, SBCs) and cloud computing (SCPs, Directory listings, ENUM). I am sure I missed a few elements but you get the point.
We are at a moment in time where computing platforms and devices are much more flexible and varied than 40 years ago. Obviously, what we can do with a phone today was unimaginable in the 1960s when shows such as Star Trek were introduced. Consider the Star Trek communicator. It may have led to the development of the flip phone but certainly no one was considering the idea of visually viewing information, video or real-time scenes on the device.
Broadvox has been a leading provider of VoIP and SIP Trunking for over ten years and with the acquisition of Cypress Communications we are delivering an array of applications that coalesce into a Unified Communications (UC) solution. However, UC is in the early adopter stage for market penetration and, to some extent, feature definition. UC is in a constant state of evolution as cloud computing, BYOD and the integration of mobile devices become mainstream requirements. IP Communications and UC are indeed going where no (hu)man has gone before.