I can remember spending time as a kid with my dad at work. He was the “Manager of Information Systems” (what we now call an IT guy) for an industrial construction company. The server room was loud, had a raised floor, a towering multi-head line printer that shook the room, and a massive IBM mainframe. There were dumb terminals built into the tabletops that ran the perimeter of the room and a punch card machine in a small separate room that overlooked the whole thing.
And there were people. Quite a few people doing data entry and managing the system and changing the reel-to-reel tapes. It definitely had the look of a pretty significant operation.
Over time, I saw that mainframe supplemented and then replaced by PC servers. The data entry people were replaced with software and automation. Before you knew it, remote construction sites needed modem-based access into the systems at the headquarters.
But this was a midsize company, and then, budgets were limited – just as they are now. Remote access was provided via programs like PC Anywhere coupled with consumer-type BBS software. Integration and migration of data between systems was done with homespun scripts backed by hours of me watching dad on the couch, debugging source code printed on green-lined paper.
Like today, upgrades were done when systems weren’t being used, which meant late nights. Stuff had to get fixed over the weekend, which meant driving into the office with Dad, sometimes for 3 minutes, sometimes for 3 hours. The systems were widely varied; there were no “Big 5” consultants or integrators involved then.
These memories are foundational to why I started Scale Computing and why I wanted to reinvent the way IT was done for midsize companies. The old mainframe was reliable but it was expensive and complicated. Couldn’t modern technology deliver that high-availability, but in a way that was compatible with the limitations of midsize companies?
Scale Computing exists because I knew it was possible. It is no mistake that HC3 was built specifically for midsize companies. To the contrary, thinking about the needs of midsize companies is built into the DNA of the company itself, rooted all the way back into that humming den of punch cards and dumb terminals and weekend server room visits.
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