Enterprises must understand a mainframe is not a cloud

Mainframes are not clouds. Neither IBM nor Oracle want you to know that. It would kill them for you to understand that. In time it will.

For proprietary companies clouds are a tough deal.

Clouds don't care about operating systems. They don't care about where data is. They don't care about constraints like CPU speed, memory, or formats. They expand as needed, in the background.

Mainframes are not clouds. Neither IBM nor Oracle want you to know that. It would kill them for you to understand that.

In time it will.

So an effort is underway by proprietary companies to embrace and extend their technologies into the cloud metaphor, inducing (or forcing) customers to take them into the new age.

It's a process that will take this whole decade to shake out. Clouds are still so new enterprises can't yet get their heads around them. So they are easy to market against.

  • You mean I don't care what hardware is on my desk?
  • You mean I don't need a server room?
  • You mean I can't see my stuff? My applications, my data, are they still mine?

In Amazon's EC2 cloud, which remains the flexible enterprise cloud of choice, the business process is seamless. Users don't need to know their applications and data are somewhere else. They keep working as before. All that complexity is abstracted, outsourced.

To make this happen, of course, your old stuff must plug into the cloud. This gives proprietary companies their opportunity, because they can (at first) dictate the terms of this move.

My point today is, this won't continue, if enterprise customers understand that the cloud should be their goal, that abstraction is the means to that end, and the way forward is to take only what they need into the cloud, only the essential tools needed to keep the transition seamless.

Once your data and tools are all in the cloud, all those proprietary advantages become simply formats, choices that can be transformed and remade once tools are available which virtualize enterprise software as enterprise hardware is now virtualized.

You go in with all your IT baggage, and over time work to reduce that baggage, repeatedly making choices based on minimizing your costs.

Which means minimizing your commitments to any particular vendor. Even Amazon.

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