At the end of last month, IBM announced a new mainframe server — the zEnterprise BC12 mainframe — which retails for only $75,000 (incredibly cheap by mainframe standards) and is intended to support private cloud computing. The system also supports Linux.
What is striking about the announcement is IBM's calculation for the cost of the system, per virtual server — as low as $1.00 per day, the vendor says. One mainframe box will run up to 520 virtual servers.
If this price point holds up, it could give public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services a run for its money. Internal mainframe power could be priced across the enterprise even more attractively as outside cloud services. For insurance companies still steeped in the mainframe and large systems world but wanting to extend more applications to cloud, this may be an alternative to consider to engaging with outside cloud providers.
Gabriel Lowy, for one, is bullish on the emerging role of the mainframe as a private cloud system. In a recent analysis in Big Data News, he points out that these larger servers have a lot of the essential components required to support cloud computing.
As Lowry puts it: “If one defines cloud as a resource that can be dynamically provisioned — allocated and de-allocated on demand — and made available with good security and management controls, then all of that functionality already exists on the mainframe. IBM is also a contributor to OpenStack, adding z/VM hypervisor and z/VM operating system APIs to the community.” The new mainframe model also supports self-provisioning, he adds.
When analyzing costs associated with energy consumption and system administration, the mainframe compared favorably to distributed architectures such as Windows or Linux on Intel-based servers, he adds. “When looking at centralized and consolidated infrastructures the question now is whether the mainframe is worthy of greater consideration than it currently receives, both if the organization already has such systems in place but also perhaps as a new investment.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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