Back when Jaws was still considered a scary movie, the mainframe dominated the hardware marketplace. Well, Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water, the mainframe or at least the mainframe mentality, is coming back.
Virtualization is as hot of a topic as BPM and SOA these days. Companies are saving millions of dollars by consolidating hundreds or even thousands of individual servers onto small clusters of servers serving up virtual machines. Other drivers for this technology are reductions in energy, emissions, and floor space, improved manageability, and easier disaster recovery strategies.
The Butler group published an article called, "The King is Dead - Long Live the Mainframe". If you have the time, this article is a great read. Here is a quote from the article:
We believe the wider adoption of the mainframe beyond these markets will be influenced by developments in the Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) paradigm, and the impact that the advancements in the capabilities of x86 server virtualisation is having in the market.One of the many reasons for the decline in mainframe usage over the years is the lack of products that are available for the mainframe platform. This is changing as Linux can now be the OS of choice on the mainframe. The article continues with this quote:
Another argument against mainframes has been the lack of commercially available software developed on the platform, which at best tends to be ported to the system at a later date, or not at all in some cases. This has created the ‘inhouse’ or customised solutions that have become associated with many mainframe implementations. However, since IBM announced support for Linux on its Z series this has become less of an issue.But even if companies are not considering mainframes as a platform for virtualizing their enterprise, one can't help but see the resemblance of today's virtual infrastructure with the mainframe infrastructure of the days gone by.
As I continue to research the virtualization movement, I keep stumbling across articles that point to various issues and challenges with virtualization. These range from security to inadequate monitoring and managing tools. When companies like VMWare and Open Source solutions like Xen resolve these issues, won't these solutions closely resemble the mainframe? If you think about it, the virtual server concept is basically the same thing as LPARs. The architecture behind the mainframes of yesterday are starting to look very similar to the architecture behind virtualization today.
IBM is using this opportunity to revitalize its mainframe sales. Most of their sales in recent years can be attributed to the fact that companies cannot afford the cost to migrate off of the years of legacy built on top of mainframe technology. Now, IBM can leverage the new mainframes running Linux as a solution to virtualization and Green IT initiatives. And by the way, the are eating their own dog food too.