System z weather forecast: clouds coming

If you take IBM’s latest big vision announcement, Dynamic Infrastructure, as a weather forecast you can’t help but notice that cloud computing has gone mainstream. And the System z will invariably find itself in the thick of cloud initiatives.

Hype aside, cloud computing is just outsourcing via the Internet. The cloud promises lower costs for the consumer of cloud services through shared economies of scale plus the convenience of 24×7 self-service. For service providers the cloud is a ubiquitous delivery platform. Today most of the focus is on the public cloud. Private clouds are similar but exist behind the corporate firewall.

Although the System z is rarely the platform that comes to mind when people talk about cloud computing (even IBM people), it already boasts a couple of notable public cloud successes:

  • Transzap, a procurement and payment management company, delivers its services running on the System z as a public cloud service
  • Hoplon, the massive multi-player gaming company, also uses the public cloud to deliver game play, which runs on virtualized Linux instances on the System z

For most System z-based organizations the private cloud or possibly a hybrid cloud will be more likely. As a private cloud the System z provides services to users inside the firewall via a browser interface. These users can be the organization’s workers as well as partners, suppliers, and customers, anyone allowed through the firewall. Numerous System z-based organizations already are handling CICS transactions as web services delivered via what amounts to a private cloud.

Not surprisingly, IBM jumped into the cloud arena early with a slew of announcements during the Pulse conference in early Feb. The cloud, of course, is not System z-centric. In fact, the big, high profile public cloud implementations today, like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud, are massive x86-based Linux server farms. But there is nothing to prevent the System z, with its economies of scale, reliability, manageability, flexibility, and security from playing a big role in private, public, and hybrid clouds. We’ll take up various aspects of cloud computing and the System z in upcoming blog posts. It’s a topic that ain’t going away anytime soon.

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