IBM z196 takes to the cloud

IBM has fully embraced the cloud, and the z196 is expected to play a big role, especially with private clouds. IBM introduced a System z Solution Edition for Cloud Computing that bundles an Enterprise Linux z server and z/VM with Tivoli automated management. There are no Solution Edition packages for the z196 yet, but IBM says they will be coming in 2011.

Organizations, however, don’t have to wait for a Solution Edition for the z196 to play in the cloud. The machine comes ready for cloud computing. IBM apparently thinks application development and testing will be among the first workloads.

On the other hand, one of the first organizations using the z for cloud computing is the  University of Bari in Italy, which built a cloud-based fish auction to streamline the go-to-market process for the local fishing industry.  Now they are looking at doing the same for other commodities, like wine.

No doubt cloud computing is hot. You’ll find it in one form or another on each of the lists IT analysts compile of technologies to watch in the coming year. If DancingDinosaur compiled such a list, it certainly would include private cloud. In October Gartner predicted that the next three years will see the delivery of a range of cloud service approaches that fall between open public clouds to closed private clouds. That seems like a pretty safe bet.

IBM is hedging its cloud bets to cover every possibility. It found 60% of its customers using or planning to use some type of private cloud computing in the next 12 months. By comparison, 20-30% expects to tap public cloud capabilities, mainly for web conferencing, email, and CRM/sales force automation. Given those workloads, the only surprise is that the public cloud numbers aren’t substantially higher.

DancingDinosaur questions the long term economics of public clouds, especially for large enterprises. The mainframe , however, promises to be an ideal platform for private clouds, which makes more sense economically. The reason comes down to three things that the mainframe already does well: virtualization, scalability, and security.

Through z/VM the mainframe can rapidly provision thousands of virtual Linux servers and share resources across the system. With the z196 and the zBX extension cabinet, the mainframe literally can encompass the capacity and platforms of an entire heterogeneous data center in a single system and efficiently manage it all through the Unified Resource Manager.

IBM takes the idea even further:  With the z’s share-all design for system components, an organization can reduce the components in the data center by 90%, resulting in massive simplification. Correspondingly, total operating costs can be significantly reduced.

Similarly, as IBM also points out, the mainframe is a proven foundation for secure multi-tenant business workloads from the application layer to the data source and all points between. It is a trusted repository for highly secure information and an open platform supporting everything from Web 2.0 agile development environments using REST and other browser interfaces to enterprise class middleware.

Finally, IBM notes that the mainframe is designed for business resiliency and support for workloads that require high service levels. It is that reason—lack of SLA support—which often drives managers to opt for private clouds where they can define, customize, and control services and service delivery levels.

IBM points to  Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (ELCOT), an Indian government owned provider of information and communications services to government agencies in Tamil Nadu as an early example of a z private cloud. To deliver the services and reduce costs ELCOT turned to a z9 as a consolidation server. The z9 has the capacity to run a workload that is equivalent to 250 Linux/x86 server workloads and support Web services, SOA, Linux, and Eclipse infrastructure and deliver it aa a private cloud.

Just imagine how much more workload a z196 private cloud could handle.


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