System z Clouds Pay Off

From its introduction last August, IBM has aimed the zEC12 at cloud use cases, especially private clouds. The zEC12’s massive virtualization capabilities make it possible to handle private cloud environments consisting of thousands of distributed systems running Linux on zEC12.

One zEC12, notes IBM, can encompass the capacity of an entire multi-platform data center in a single system. The newest z also enables organizations to run conventional IT workloads and private cloud applications on one system.  If you are looking at a zEC12 coupled with the zBX you can have a hybrid private cloud running Linux, Windows, and AIX workloads.

There are three main reasons why z-based data centers should consider a private cloud:

  1. The z does it so naturally and seamlessly
  2. It boosts IT efficiency, mainly through user self service
  3. It increases enterprise agility, especially when it comes to provisioning and deploying IT resources and applications fast

Organizations everywhere are adopting private clouds (probably because C-level execs are more comfortable with private cloud security).  The Open Data Center Alliance reports faster private cloud adoption than originally predicted. Over half its survey respondents will be running more than 40% of their IT operations in private clouds by 2015.

Mainframes make a particularly good private cloud choice. Nationwide, the insurance company, consolidated 3000 distributed servers to Linux virtual servers running on a variety of z mainframes, creating a multi-platform private mainframe cloud optimized for its different workloads. The goal was to improve efficiency.

Nationwide initially intended to isolate its Linux and z/OS workloads on different physical mainframes. This resulted in a total of seven machines – a mixture of z9 and z10 servers – of which two were dedicated to Linux. To optimize this footprint, however, Nationwide ended up consolidating all workloads to four IBM zEnterprise 196 servers and two z10 servers, putting Linux and z/OS workloads on the same machines because its confidence level with Linux on the mainframe and the maturity of the platform made the Nationwide IT team comfortable mixing workloads.

The key benefit of this approach was higher utilization and better economies of scale, effectively making the mainframes into a unified private cloud—a single set of resources, managed with the same tools but optimized for a variety of workloads. The payback:  elimination of both capital and operational expenditures, expected to save about $15 million over three years. The more compact and efficient zEnterprise landscape also means low costs in the future. Specifically, Nationwide is realizing an 80% reduction in power, cooling and floor space despite an application workload that is growing 30% annually, and practically all of it handled through the provisioning of new virtual servers on the existing mainframe footprint.

Another z cloud was built by the City and County of Honolulu. It needed to increase government transparency by providing useful, timely data to its citizens. The goal was to boost citizen involvement, improve delivery of services, and increase the efficiency of city operations.

Honolulu built its cloud using an IFL engine running Linux on the city’s z10 EC machine. Between Linux and IBM z/VM the city created a customized cloud environment. This provided a scalable self-service platform on which city employees could develop open source applications, and it empowered the general public to create and deploy citizen-centric applications. Other components included IBM XIV storage, IBM Maximo Asset Management, IBM Tivoli OMEGAMON, Tivoli Workload Scheduler, and Tivoli Storage Manager.

The results: reduction in application deployment time from one week to only hours, 68% lower licensing costs for one database, and a new property tax appraisal system that increased tax revenue by $1.4 million in just three months.

There are even more examples of z clouds. For z shops a private cloud should be pretty straightforward; you’re probably over half-way there already. All you need are a few more components and a well-defined business case.  Give me a call, and I’ll even help you pull the business case together.

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7 Responses to “System z Clouds Pay Off”

  1. Cal Braunstein Says:

    the Nationwide reference is getting old. it does not even use zEnterprise servers. a new one is needed.

  2. James Francis Cray Says:

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  3. James Francis Cray Says:

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  4. James Francis Cray Says:

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  6. IBM Points System z Further into the Cloud with CSL | DancingDinosaur Says:

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