A fintech startup just won a major contract to help the ATO deal with its clunky mainframe

Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

Fintech start-up Mainframe Cloud has won a deal with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to help make its internal systems more user-friendly.

The ATO, which has been hit by a series of outages this month and in December, will take delivery of a suite of mainframe modernisation solutions.

The size of the deal hasn’t been disclosed but the contract runs for 12 months, and is renewable for a further year.

Mainframe computers still process about 80% of the world’s data and are at the core of most large government organisations, banks, airlines and insurance companies.

Mainframe Cloud’s technology adds a layer on top of mainframe computers now decades old, many of which still run key functions in government departments, to make them easier to access and to fine tune.

The old mainframe systems are notoriously difficult to repurpose or reprogram, requiring the skills of specialist programmers. Mainframe Cloud’s system allows simpler access via a set of tools.

Co-founder and CEO Ben Pearson says his company’s technology allows applications to interact with the mainframe without needing to be permanently installed.

Mainframe Cloud founders Frank Fera and Ben Pearson. Supplied

These applications are delivered via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This in turn, allows users to be up and running on the mainframe within minutes.

All these in-house applications incorporate a Windows-style user interface.

The Cloud in Mainframe Cloud is refers to the method in which the platform is deployed and runs. The Cloud is effectively an on-premise hybrid cloud that operates within the confines of an organisation’s firewall.

The contract with the ATO follows an extensive and successful beta testing exercise in 2016.

The global application development market for mainframes is estimated to be worth $US23 billion a year.