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Director, OpenShift Strategy at Red Hat. Founder of Rishidot Research, a research community focused on services world. His focus is on Platform Services, Infrastructure and the role of Open Source in the services era. Krish has been writing @ CloudAve from its inception and had also been part of GigaOm Pro Analyst Group. The opinions expressed here are his own and are neither representative of his employer, Red Hat, nor CloudAve, nor its sponsors.

3 responses to “Can Mainframes Be Part Of Cloud Computing?”

  1. Randy Arthur

    At scale, the z/Series of servers is a very cost-effective means of delivering Linux OS instances. The IFL “engines” that are added to the mainframe are purposed-designed to run massive concurrent Linux environments using a “stripped down” derivative of z/VM.

    IBM’s z/VM operating system has been around for > 40 years in some form and is an excellent and robust virtualization hypervisor. If anyone wants to make a claim about their virtualization credentials IBM has all the right in the world to tout theirs. (Don’t forget the late and unlamented OS/2 had a kick-ass virtualization service in it too)

    Since cloud services are designed to increase the abstraction between the service and the platform (and especially the underlying hardware) as I twittered “Who Cares what it runs on?”. x86 based platforms seem to many to be the ultimate expression of IT hardware commoditization, but that shouldn’t mean that other platforms or solutions are forbidden from being considered as “real” cloud services.

    From the consumer’s perspective, all I care about is the cost of a VM instance. Whether I get the best price from an x86 blade farm, from a Mainframe IFL or from naturalized leprechauns – as long as my Linux applications work correctly – I don’t care how the service provider gives me the service as long as it meets my performance and availability requirements.

    Would be happy to chat with you more on this subject.


  2. Krish

    Thanks Randy for your comments. I am in agreement with you. I will get in touch with you after the thanksgiving holidays for a chat.

  3. daver

    Perhaps my judgement is a bit clouded (sorry, bad pun intended 😉 because I used to work for IBM in an area related to the Cloud initiatives, and any biases aside, the comment on “who cares what it runs on” is bang on target. Cloud is a concept and a way of operating. Whether it runs on z, p, x86, Sun, HP or whatever, who cares? It is the operational model that defines a cloud. I submit that in many instances, z is even more efficient because of the scalability/density factor over x86, meaning fewer moving parts, fewer cables, less networking complexity, lower power consumption and so on. Why would anyone care whether it runs on a mainframe or an iPhone?

    Also, Randy, FYI, in some of the analysis I’ve done, it’s not only in the cost per VM, which is one way of viewing it, but it is also in the overall cost of the workloads including licensing and so on, which adds to the argument that more-powerful-than-x86 (whether IBM z or p, or others such as HP or Sun) might be even more cost effective despite the higher hardware costs because of the density factor, or the processing you can apply to workloads, resulting in lower SW licensing costs for example. In some cases, x86 comes out on top. In others, mainframes might. Point is, I agree with you guys; it IS a cloud. There’s a lot of subjectivity in the numbers, and there’s no one *best* answer. (I know, I ran these analyses for a number of scenarios)