IBM: The Mainframe Is Back, Baby

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-10-27 Print this article Print

title=Cloud Computing and Linux on the Mainframe}

eWEEK: What is driving interest in clients running new workloads on the zEnterprise for first time?

ROSAMILIA: There are two key areas driving new workloads onto zEnterprise. The first is around cloud computing.  As cloud computing takes hold, we see a key role for the mainframe in both private and public clouds. The second is around Linux on the mainframe, especially in emerging markets. Many clients in emerging markets built their data centers on a range of different platforms. As their businesses grow they are seeing the mainframe as an attractive option to consolidate multiple Linux systems on a single mainframe server, which affords them scalability for additional room for growth and other features such as security and reliability not found in other platforms.

eWEEK: zEnterprise started shipping last month. What's next for the platform?

ROSAMILIA: Later this quarter we will start to ship the capability to extend mainframe governance to additional platforms integrated into the zEnterprise System architecture. This is made possible by new software called Unified Resource Manager that manages how the additional platforms are integrated and managed by zEnterprise as a  single virtualized system.

We will first see the functionality for select IBM Power blades to be connected to the new IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension, or zBX. We will also ship IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer for zBX to accelerate the performance of complex analytic workloads at a lower cost per transaction.

eWEEK: When will the integration workloads on additional platforms be available?

ROSAMILIA: In the first half of next year we plan to announce the availability of additional general purpose blades for the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension including select IBM System x-based blades running Linux. Additional workload-optimized blades will include IBM DataPower, which improves Website and network performance.

eWEEK: IBM moved away from using water to cool mainframes in the 1990s. What drove the reintroduction of water cooling as an option for zEnterprise customers?

ROSAMILIA: When mainframe servers became more energy efficient in the 1990s, data center air-conditioning was sufficient to cool them. This move away from water--which at the time required cumbersome, independent water cooling systems--actually expanded the market for where mainframes could be used. For example, we started to see mainframes in smaller data centers not previously equipped with independent water cooling systems.
However, emerging realities of today--including rising energy costs, explosive growth rates of data and increased pressure to reduce operating costs--are straining data centers now prone to hot spots that require additional energy and costs to cool.    

These factors led to offering water cooling as an option for zEnterprise clients. Water is about 4,000 times more efficient than air cooling and is an ideal option for data centers prone to hot spots or as part of an overall energy efficiency initiative. A key benefit of this option is that the zEnterprise System connects to existing data center chilled water used for air conditioning. Complicated independent water cooling systems of the past are no longer required. Water is piped directly to the hottest part of the server and resulting warmer water can be piped out of the data center to cool and recirculate. This option can reduce energy use by up to 12 percent and removes more than 70 percent of the heat from the zEnterprise System. 

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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