re: Q&A: 10 Questions For IBM Hardware Chief Rod Adkins
Good interview with knowledgeable questions. People have been predicting the end of mainframe for the last 30 years. It never happens because System z is still the only platform on the planet that offers unbreakable security (EAL5, category of its own, security) and 30-50 year mean time between outages. You can cluster x86 servers to achieve mainframe level processing performance. You can also achieve similar reliability if you cluster x86 servers with automated failover (and an army of engineers to keep it running), but there is nothing out there that competes with System z security or simplicity through integration. You can run a massive enterprise on z with a couple of engineers. I think System z is going to experience a revival, and has been experiencing a revival, with System z running Linux. People are trying to create a mainframe-like architectures with DIY x86 builds for private clouds (migrating away from client-server towards centralization). System z is easier than the inherent complexity of x86 and the cost is about the same for capex and less when you figure in the massive opex x86 requires.
The way I think about it is x86 build = a bunch of people with shovels. System z = a bulldozer. People buy x86 based upon the rationale that a shovel (even a hundred shovels) is less costly than a bulldozer. True, but what is the cost of those hundred people carrying the shovels? What is the cost of integrating and managing those hundred people vs. just having a bulldozer perform the task with no need for integration, coordination, etc?