Mainframes in the Age of Cloud Computing

Mainframes in the Age of Cloud Computing

Mainframes may be 1960s technology, but they still manage a huge portion of the world’s data. This is mainly because of two reasons – i) continuous improvement of the technology and ii) the huge costs involved in changing them en masse. However, in today’s world of cloud computing when companies are looking at decreasing their IT footprints, bulky mainframes may seem archaic. But not so if they are used in the proper manner.

Some time back I had written about how cloud computing represented the logical flow of advancement from bulky mainframes to smaller PCs to a computing paradigm when no software needs to be present on a machine (Mainframes -> PCs -> Cloud Computing? ). However, today, in a step backward that can actually take us forward, however strange that may sound, I am going to write on how mainframes can be used for cloud computing.

Modern mainframes (no, that’s not a printing error) can potentially be used to build private clouds, those nebulous networks with closely delimited borders but offering several of the advantages of cloud computing ( Which is the Safer Cloud – Public or Private?).

Such usage of mainframes is possible due to the increasing use of Linux, the favored cloud computing operating system. This allows virtual x86 servers to be run on a mainframe, the same way they are used in traditional (again, not a printing error) cloud computing. In a CA Technologies-sponsored survey of 200 U.S. mainframe executives last year, 73% of the respondents said that their mainframes were a part of their future cloud plans.

However, two problems remain. One is the requirement for explicit authorization for provisioning of mainframe resources, something that detracts from one of the very fundamentals of cloud computing – elasticity. However, according to Reed Mullen, IBM‘s System z cloud computing expert, this lack of self-provisioning in mainframes is cultural, not technological. According to him, self-provisioning is easy to implement using IBM’s Tivoli Service Automation Manager or through custom development.

Mullen agrees that even then, self-provisioning would depend on the latitude given by a company’s IT department, which he describes as the “old habits” of the mainframe world. At the same time, he insists, even cloud computing in the usual sense of the term uses approval processes, however transparent they may be.

The second problem relates to the high cost of mainframe equipment and licensing. However, Mullen mentions that the latest generation of IBM mainframes has a relatively unknown “on-off” feature, which allows administrators to turn a processor core on for a limited time, paying short-term day rates for IBM software rather than buying an expensive annual license based on the number of processor cores. “We are looking at taking advantage of this infrastructure to make it even more suitable for a cloud environment where there is a lot of unpredictable usage,” he said.

For companies that want to use mainframes for their dependability but at the same time want to be on the cloud as well, this is certainly an interesting development. As it is for companies that already have mainframes that they are reluctant to mothball. Whether it makes sense to buy mainframes for the primary purpose of cloud computing is however, difficult to justify. Studies will have to be conducted, and not necessarily by IBM which has a vested interest in pushing mainframes, before such questions can be answered definitely.

By Sourya Biswas

sourya

Sourya Biswas is a former risk analyst who has worked with several financial organizations of international repute, besides being a freelance journalist with several articles published online. After 6 years of work, he has decided to pursue further studies at the University of Notre Dame, where he has completed his MBA. He holds a Bachelors in Engineering from the Indian Institute of Information Technology. He is also a member of high-IQ organizations Mensa and Triple Nine Society and has been a prolific writer to CloudTweaks over the years... http://www.cloudtweaks.com/author/sourya/

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Comics

At CloudTweaks, we're plugged into the cloud, the internet of things and all that the web has to offer. From wearable technology, to mobile computing, cloud computing and big data, CloudTweaks is your source for updates and news on the most innovative technology.

Popular

Top Viral Impact

Cloud Infographic: The Education Of Tomorrow

Cloud Infographic: The Education Of Tomorrow

Cloud Infographic: The Education Of Tomorrow  Online Education is a very exciting topic for many as it opens up many new doors and opportunities. We’ve touched on areas such as Massive Open Online Sources (MOOC) which provides tremendous levels of cloud based interconnectivity. We’ve taken a look into higher education,  the increased demand for online courses as well as…

Cloud Infographic – Big Data Survey: What Are The Trends?

Cloud Infographic – Big Data Survey: What Are The Trends?

Jaspersoft Big Data Survey Shows Rise in Commitment to Projects and Decline in Confusion Nearly 1,600 Jaspersoft Community Members Participate in Second Jaspersoft Big Data Survey San Francisco, February 4, 2014 – Jaspersoft, the Intelligence Inside applications and business processes, today shared results from its Big Data Survey. Nearly 1,600 Jaspersoft community members responded to…

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

5 Considerations You Need To Review Before Investing In Data Analytics

Review Before Investing In Data Analytics Big data, when handled properly, can lead to big change. Companies in a wide variety of industries are partnering with data analytics companies to increase operational efficiency and make evidence-based business decisions. From Kraft Foods using business intelligence (BI) to cut customer satisfaction analysis time in half, to a…

Cloud Infographic: Most Used Cloud Apps

Cloud Infographic: Most Used Cloud Apps

Cloud app and analytics company, Netskope released its quarterly Cloud Report. The new report reveals that enterprise employees are using an average of 397 different cloud apps (most of which are unsanctioned), when IT estimated they have 40-50 — that’s a tenfold underestimation. Below is an infographic provided courtesy of the group at Netskope which goes into further detail.…

Featured Sponsors

The Internet of Everything Opens Up The World

The Internet of Everything Opens Up The World

Shaping The World With New Technologies As a connected collection of intelligent objects, the Internet of Everything promises to open up those areas of the world hardest hit by economic, political and agricultural blights. Relatively inexpensive devices, paired with revolutionary energy sources and unprecedented access to information offer great promise to farmers and workers in…

Sponsors

Going Global With The Cloud: Anywhere, Anytime Access

Going Global With The Cloud: Anywhere, Anytime Access

Let’s cut right to the chase… Lots of companies have offered 24/7 availability of systems and data to their customers and employees for years. What else is new? What’s new is that a cloud computing environment can make 24/7 availability possible for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). (Infographic Source:Towergate) Previously, only organizations with robust IT…

Placement Opportunities - Find Out!

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading influencers in cloud computing, big data and internet of things (IoT) information. Our goal is to continue to build our growing information portal, by providing the best in-depth articles, interviews, event listings, whitepapers, infographics and much more.

You can help continue to support our community by social sharing, sponsoring, partnering or contributing to this great educational resource.

Contact

CloudTweaks Media
Phone: 1 (212) 763-0021

Join Our Newsletter