IBM Mainframe Makeover: Mobile, Big Data Reality Check - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Comments
IBM Mainframe Makeover: Mobile, Big Data Reality Check
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
1/21/2015 | 3:04:27 PM
Re: Not x86 virtualization
I did not know you could run i5/os (what you are calling iSeries) on a Z system partition. But if mainframe is POWER, I guess that makes sense for consolidation reasons. A top end i5 server now (which shares same hardware as AIX os) is pretty much a mainframe now with the scale it offers. I have been working on AS400/iSeries/i5 servers since 1988 when they hit market to replace the old System 38. The growth of these servers has been amazing over the years.

My current job started with helping them implement ERP on a AS400 back in 1998 to replace LoB software they ran on a Wang (yes a Wang, only time I actually saw one in my career) and on Windows based Paradox software. That first machine in 1997 was 1000 lbs and cost about $100,000. I don't remember exact specs but memory was maybe a few MB, storage was maybe a GB and the CPW (performance measure) was, say, 100. The one we bought in 2003 was $50K, 200 lbs with everything else about doubled. The one we use now, bought 2009, is smallest model they have. 4U rack mounted for about $20K, 4GB memory, 460GB storage, CPW about 4300.

The new one I got quote on is less than $20K, 32GB memory, 849GB storage, CPW 9875, again smallest they make. And people wonder why IBM hardware revenue is down. This is still finest business server in available. And by business, I don't mean Facebook. Think actually making a product and selling it.

This cloud/scale internet business stuff can use cheap x86, whole different ballgame. But as I commented on another article in Dark Reading, still waiting for somebody to tell me story about an IBM mainframe getting pawned that wasn't inside job. My i5 is not going to taken by ransomware, ever.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2015 | 3:25:31 PM
Not x86 virtualization
It wasn't x86 virtualization that was introduced 15 years ago -- it was RISC (IBM Power) emulation for migration of Unix apps to Linux and iSeries emulation for formerly AS/400 apps. To my knowlege, mainframe can't run x86 software, despite IBM's contant comparisons of mainframe compute-per-processor power to x86. The latter will always lose by that measure, but distributed systems run on hundreds if not thousands of cheap, easily replaceable x86 boxes.  
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2015 | 3:08:17 PM
Mainframe still relevant...
The mainframe is basically a set of concepts that remain in play today. Combine lots of processing power and memory with short data connection channels between them so that large jobs can be undertaken. The cloud tries to do much the same thing, only it wants to use the cheapest commodity parts, and get those parts to scale out infinitely.Until the cloud came along, no one could do it at scale quite as well as the mainframe. That's why it remains entrenched in legacy systems. "Fifteen years ago, for example, IBM took advantage of virtualization to enable the z series to run Linux- and Java-based applications." Well, yes, it took advantage of x86 virtualization. But IBM invented virtualization 50 years ago with its VMS operating system, which could run guests underneath it.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/15/2015 | 3:02:48 PM
Re: Cost?
Thanks, Doug. You'd think the "C" part owes them considering how much of their business they have already sold to C.
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2015 | 2:57:28 PM
Re: Cost?
In the case of Sicoob, for example, it's a credit union. IBM has tons of ready-to-customize systems for banks, insurance companies, retailers, government agencies, etc. These apps were born on the mainframe. IBM was making big inroads in BRIC countries with these apps until China put a crimp on the "C" part of that growth story.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/15/2015 | 2:36:07 PM
Re: Cost?
@Doug- I think that makes total sense. Facebook and the other big companies you mention certainly have the cash to switch if they want, and they're not. 

Is there any indication what is drawing the new customers then?
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/15/2015 | 2:30:15 PM
Re: Cost?
IBM doesn't divulge pricing. It talks about it in terms of MIPS (millions of instructions per second). You're right about consolidation of massive workloads being the best economic use of mainframe processing power, but MIPS at scale aren't exactly cheap. Oracle claims IBM has been jacking up rates. Customer Sears has made a business out of its Metascale big-data spinoff, which specializes helping companies move workloads like data transformation OFF of mainframes and into lower-cost, commodity Hadoop clusters, where companies can harness lower-cost processing cycles on massive clusters running on commodity x86 servers.

The bottom line is this: if the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon could run more cheaply on IBM Mainframes, that's what they would use, but they don't. Those guys invented big data platforms on commodity hardware specifically so they could scale affordably. And I don't think they would migrate to mainframes if they could start from scratch assuming their current scale.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/15/2015 | 2:14:09 PM
Cost?
Hi Doug. Interesting article. Unless I missed it, the one thing I missed was the associated cost with mainframe versus non-mainframe options. It seems possible that for big enterprises mainframe solutions might be cheaper. I always feel like the problem with the mainframe is that it is always like paying for everything with a 50 dollar bill and no one has change. Mainframes seem cheaper and better as long as you are fully using it. Is that perception still correct?


State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
Commentary
Learning: It's a Give and Take Thing
James M. Connolly, Editorial Director, InformationWeek and Network Computing,  1/24/2020
Slideshows
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Commentary
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll