zBX Use Case Challenge

What would your management say if you proposed a zBX? Of course, they would want a business case, an ROI analysis, justifications left and right, a deployment plan, a change management plan, and more.  But situations arise when the z196/zBX might be the perfect solution. Here’s one of those; see what you think.

An IT manager contacted DancingDinosaur for help with a problem.  He worked for a large enterprise that already deployed a z196 that replaced a z9. But business managers were unhappy with the cost of mainframe and had begun agitating to replace it with x86 blades. Did DancingDinosaur, he asked, have anything he could use to counter the business managers.

DancingDinosaur sent him the link, here, to the Independent Assessment case study on the Canadian Department of National Defense (DND). The DND was on the verge of pushing the mainframe out the door in favor of a variety of distributed servers.  The mainframe manager countered with a proposal to transition the mainframe from traditional enterprise serving to enterprise multi-platform hosting that took advantage of the mainframe’s better reliability, availability, and, most importantly, efficient manageability plus the versatility of z-based hybrid computing.  The DND not only kept the mainframe but added multiple z196 machines, which they enhanced with multiple zBX cabinets for true multiplatform (hybrid) enterprise hosting. The efficiency of the zEnterprise as a multiplatform host won the argument.

EUROCONTROL, the European air traffic control organization, wrestled with the problem how best to consolidate their inefficient mix of mainframe and distributed systems. DancingDinosaur wrote about it a few weeks back here.   After exploring the x86 option and the mainframe, they went with a highly virtualized z196/zBX hybrid solution.

The IT manager trying to counter his business managers’ mainframe objections has a z196.  The initial investment in hybrid computing already has been made.  Since the business managers made it clear they want x86 blades and prefer IBM HX5 blades it should be a simple decision to go with the zBX as the blade cabinet.  The blades will cost the same. Yes, the zBX will cost more than a generic x86 blade cabinet, but it brings much more, starting with the management efficiency of the entire hybrid environment and the fast 10GbE interconnect.

On top of that, the organization had been modernizing its CICS and z/OS applications using CA-Gen. So already it is well into a mainframe-oriented modernization effort.  How much do the business managers think they are going to save? How much of the existing functionality do they hope to preserve? And how fast do they think this migration to a full x86 blade application environment is going to occur? Migrations like this can take years and even then some things simply don’t work as hoped.

This situation begs for a zBX populated with the preferred HX5 blades and the entire environment managed efficiently through the Unified Resource Manager on the z196.  IBM couldn’t have written a better scenario.

But there always is a catch. In this case the organization had recently started on an x86 blade migration with a consulting firm. This is a $2 million project, and the consulting firm is going to fight to keep it. One way or the other, the organization is going to end up eating something: either they eat the remainder of the consulting project or they write off what has been an extended investment in proven mainframe computing and their new z196, which can bring them the x86 computing they want with the efficiency, manageability, reliability, and versatility of the zEnterprise. What would your management choose?

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