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City says goodbye to an era of technology by switching off its 18-year-old mainframe

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Information Technology Division switched off its 18-year-old legacy mainframe today during a media event that celebrated the City’s successful efforts to adapt to modern technologies. The 3-by-3-by-6 foot mainframe once housed all of the City’s 50+ applications and processes. By moving off of this mainframe, the City will achieve its goal of being entirely server- and cloud-based.

“Turning off the mainframe is a major accomplishment for the City of Kansas City,” said Mary Miller, the City’s chief information officer. “Many other cities are unable to migrate applications off of their mainframes due to the vast amount of information stored on them. The City recognized the importance of modern technology, so we made it an effort to upgrade our applications to servers and the cloud.”

Among the 50+ applications previously stored on the mainframe include revenue, payroll, financial, personal records, permitting, special assets, real estate, birth/death records and more. The City slowly began phasing out the mainframe in 1998, starting with its permitting programs and ending with its revenue system this year.

The City decided to switch off its mainframe because modern servers and cloud-computing can support more applications, and provide better interfaces, searches and flexible virtualization. For example, flexible virtualization occurs if one server is not being used and another is being overused. In this case, the unused server can intuitively provide backup support. This technology was not possible with the mainframe.

The event was held on Dec. 31 in time to not only say goodbye to the year 2013, but also to an era. Carlos Valenciano, an IT senior analyst, has worked for the City’s Information Technology Division for 50 years. He celebrated and turned on the mainframe when it debuted in the City’s “computer room” in 1995. Fittingly, he switched it off during today’s event.

“I’ve been fortunate to witness many of the City’s technological advances over the years, including the mainframe’s launch and, now, retirement,” Valenciano said. “I’m excited to see how the City’s technology will continue to evolve into the future. When it comes to technology, always be prepared for the future, but never forget what you’ve learned in the past.”

Individuals who attended the event also experienced a walk down memory lane. IT staff placed some of its technologies of yester-year on display, including old punch cards, reel tapes, old cartridge tapes, dumb terminals and keyboards, microfiche, green bar paper, form books for the mainframe printers and IBM 9034 converters.


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