Monday, March 28, 2011

Traditional mainframe, meet the x86 "software mainframe"

Here's a nice 2-part article by Beth Pariseau "on the closing gap between distributed systems and mainframe technology". Starting point is a phrase from VMware Inc. CEO Paul Maritz saying "VMware was working to create a 'software mainframe' with its virtualization prowess". A bold statement two years ago, but the author states "the two worlds start to look more alike when you combine server virtualization for x86 platforms; advanced automation and orchestration tools for distributed systems; increasing power and virtualization integration in commodity chips; and the trend of scale-out computing".

On the one hand it looks like such a 'software mainframe' is just re-inventing the wheel : "For example, server virtualization vendors are launching portals that would allow end users of applications to request resources from the centralized computing pool and have them automatically provisioned as well as continually load balanced and monitored". Isn't this a possible definition for cloud ? But then again "In the mainframe world, this is simply how resource provisioning has always been done".

On the other hand this 'software mainframe' keeps growing because users have other "motivations - the foremost being cost and the flexibility that comes with scaling out smaller commodity systems rather than building up one centralized supercomputer".

The second part discusses the evolution of the mainframe in recent years, allthough not every one seems to realize this : "When they hear the word 'mainframe', today’s generation of IT pros may picture green-screen terminals and room-sized computers, but the traditional mainframe hasn’t stood still. With the announcement of its zEnterprise 196 last summer, IBM started to blend the mainframe and distributed systems worlds".

How will these two worlds evolve ? Will there be a "total convergence or life on separate clouds" ? Take a look at the article to compare the author's viewpoint with yours ?

1 comment:

Marcel said...

If you want to have "Mainframe-like" stability, security and reliability, buy a mainframe. I do not eat "chocolate-like" stuff if I feel like eating chocolate.
Wanting to be "mainframe-like" means you are not quite there. Compared to virtualized Mainframes, the tuning possibilities, utilization, DR utilities etc. are simply not comparable. And it's not just the tools, it's about the people too. When IBM announced the zBx that connects "distributed" with "Enterprise Mainframe" the expectations were high. It's now up to the ISV's to make sure we make it all manageable "mainframe STYLE", not Mainframe like..... And some are already doing that: