For Cloud Flexibility, Look No Further than the Mainframe

Without a doubt, one of cloud computing’s most attractive attributes is flexibility. Rather than get locked into the inherent limitations of legacy systems, organizations that leverage the cloud benefit from the ability to increase or reduce consumption of IT resources as needed.

This elasticity, in addition to the elimination of many configuration and compatibility issues that have often plagued IT implementations in heterogeneous environments, is nothing short of a godsend for IT departments that are under constant pressure to deliver more with less.

But “legacy” isn’t always a bad thing when it comes to cloud computing. That is, if an organization is using mainframe technology.

Most people may not associate “flexibility” with “mainframe,” but then again, most people aren’t mainframe professionals. Folks who work with the mainframe, though, know this simple truth: The mainframe provides all the benefits of cloud computing – and the virtualization that provides the cloud’s underpinnings.

The reason for this is straightforward enough: Cloud computing emulates the mainframe environment. As such, the mainframe has become the go-to platform for an increasing number of organizations as they seek to leverage the benefits of cloud computing and analyze the massive volumes of data that pass through their IT networks.

An increasing number of decision-makers are finding it easier and more manageable to invest in mainframe technology for their cloud and data analysis needs, rather than investing in server farms and components sourced from multiple vendors

They understand that if it’s flexibility you need, you need look no further than the mainframe to get it. “The mainframe is the most flexible technology platform in computing,” Rodney C. Adkins, IBM’s senior vice president for systems and technology, told the New York Times in August, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/technology/ibm-mainframe-evolves-to-serve-the-digital-world.html?_r=0

Beyond Batch Jobs

As the King of Mainframe, IBM has a vested interest in seeing the computing colossus – which some shortsightedly wrote off with the advent of distributed computing – succeed in the era of cloud computing and Big Data. To ensure that happens, the vendor has positioned its System z as the ideal platform for organizations looking to leverage the flexibility and scalability of cloud environments.

While the mainframe historically has focused on batch jobs and business transactions, IBM’s zEnterprise is capable of handling much more than that, providing organizations with the computing and analytic power they need to better understand and interact with existing customers, and attract new ones.

Supported by the IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure portfolio, zEnterprise delivers the functionality organizations need to stay competitive, adaptable and responsive. Such functionality includes asset and resource monitoring, storage management, and workload and system automation. Visibility into the network and centralized control over assets are critical to today’s IT department, and with Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure solutions, that’s what you get.

zEnterprise also delivers significant monetary benefits. Organizations that leverage zEnterprise can replace armies of servers with a single mainframe, thereby reducing floor space by as much as 90 percent, slashing energy consumption by up to 80 percent and dropping the cost per virtual server to less than $1 per day.

The mainframe also reduces software-licensing costs by reducing the number of total software licenses. Rather than charging per copy, mainframe software charges are typically based on the physical environment. Regardless of the number of virtual servers created, the software license costs remain unchanged. In an inherently flexible cloud environment, this is significant because demand levels can change quickly.

Rapid Deployment

For mainframe shops looking to implement a cloud environment leveraging IBM Cloud and Smarter Infrastructure solutions, the vendor promises swift deployment. Using the IBM Cloud Ready for Linux on System z offering, the vendor says a solution can be up in running in less than a week that “provides cloud monitoring, service lifecycle management, cloud backup and recovery, automated provisioning and deprovisioning—all critical functions necessary to almost any private cloud deployment or business context.” http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/governance/action/07252013.html

As the need for cloud resources grows over time, organizations can upgrade to IBM SmartCloud Orchestration for added features and functionality. This includes deployment of private clouds by leveraging the IBM OMEGAMON for z/OS, Mainframe Networks, z/VM, and Storage.

Organizations also have the option of employing their zEnterprise environments to monitor mobile networks, thereby accelerating resolution whenever there’s a problem.

And, keeping in mind the importance of flexibility in cloud environments, organizations can take that up several notches with the IBM Tivoli Workload Automation 9.1, which offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model designed to ease the burden on IT budgets. In this way, organizations pay only for the resources they use.

That’s the kind of flexibility that IT budget planners expect from cloud computing. With the mainframe, particularly with zEnterprise, they will be hard-pressed to find an environment that gives them higher levels of flexibility.

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