Back to the mainframe future

An article about storage strategies in the Jan. 19, 2009 issue of eWeek (previously PC Week, when PCs were a force to be reckoned with in the industry) suggests IT managers “junk some of their older pizza-box racks and replace them with heavier-duty equipment, such as IBM’s z System mainframes.” The writer then goes on to quote Jim Grant, senior vp at BMC, a leading mainframe software provider, as saying “Mainframes are poised to become the default security blanket for IT as organizations squeeze even more value from [their IT] investment.”

Hello, where has eWeek been? I’ve been writing stuff like that for years in z/Journal and, more recently, Mainframe Executive. The mainframe has been a central part of the IT future for a long time, longer than PCs or eWeek for sure. With rock solid virtualization, Linux, Java, extremely powerful multi-core processors, a slew of specialized assist processors, and enviable energy efficiency the mainframe is the future. It can do Web 2.0, cloud computing, mobile computing, tiered storage (HSM), and more.

In fact, organizations already are taking their System z in these directions:

  • Viterra, a grain consortium in Saskatchewan, has implemented Web 2.0 capabilities through its WebSphere portal and System z. It now is aiming to connect mobile Blackberry users to data residing on the System z.
  • Transzap, a business services provider, has emerged as IBM’s latest poster child for System z-based cloud computing.
  • Hoplon, a multi-player gaming company, handles global gaming on a massive scale through its System z.
  • Ball State University in Indiana is connecting its students to System z-based data and applications through Facebook via a browser, including mobile browsers.

C’mon, how much forward thinking can you get?

There certainly is a hurdle to get over before you can take advantage of the mainframe. To start, there is an upfront investment of six figures for even a small business class System z. Then there is a skills hurdle, which is surmountable as IBM pumps resources into computer science programs at universities across the country. Over 500 universities around the world have jumped on the System z bandwagon and are starting to churn out skilled System z graduates. Heck, there is even a Facebook group for the System z.

The future really must be System z; now even eWeek gets it.

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