Cloud computing and the mainframe

Cloud computing and the mainframe

Summary: As cloud computing becomes more important to organizations of all sizes, does this mean that the venerable mainframe is on its deathbed? Some suppliers, such as ASG Software Solutions and IBM, think that cloud computing will power the next 50 years of mainframe use.


The folks at ASG Software Solutions reached out to me recently to let me know about CloudFactory for Mainframe (ASG-CloudFactory/MF.) 

A bit about ASG-CloudFactory/MF

This software is designed to bring the mainframe into today's cloud computing market. The company claims  that ASG-CloudFactory/MF greatly simplifies and accelerates mainframe management, ridding organizations of risky manual processes, human errors, slow mainframe request fulfillment and skill shortages due to generational knowledge gaps.

ASG Software Solutions describes its technology in the following way:

ASG-CloudFactory/MF is a fixed software solution suite comprised of ASG-CloudCockpit, a workspace to access applications, services, data and the self-service catalog; ASG-CloudStore, an Amazon-like service request management platform; and ASG-CloudRobot, a workflow designer and automation engine. ASG also plans to create an open CloudFactory for Mainframe community where companies and partners can share their workflows and scripts to promote more widespread knowledge sharing around mainframe management best practices.

Snapshot analysis

Enterprises have some very strict demands for cloud computing including high levels of performance, availability and reliability, as well as unified management. The folks at IBM have long been quite vocal about the fact that its System z meets and exceeds those requirements and has for quite some time.

ASG Software Solutions has picked up on the good match between enterprise requirements and what mainframes do and is offering a set of tools making it possible for organizations to deploy cloud computing solutions on mainframes.

IBM is also offering an extensive array of products and services designed to help organizations deploy both on- and off-premise cloud computing solutions. The mainframe can support its own and Linux workloads directly and Windows workloads through the use of X86-based blades housed in the mainframe system enclosure.

Will this increased activity to support mainframe-based clouds win over enterprises and cloud services providers? If the goal is high levels of performance, availability and reliability, the answer could be yes.

Topic: Cloud


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • If anything...

    ...I think it would make mainframes more important. Something has to host those mammoth sites with which we're all supposed to replace our own servers.

    Mind you, it may not help old line IBM operating systems (UNIX-family systems are probably more appropriate), but mainframes are defined by the hardware; not the software they run.
    John L. Ries
    • John L. Ries: "would make mainframes more important"

      I'd like to see some stats regarding data center energy and space requirements for IBM mainframes vs. commodity x86 hardware,
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Kind of hard to say...

        An IBM z system needs power proportionate to the size of the system...

        But a single z system (which would be one or two racks) can handle 1500 VMs.

        An equivalent Intel collection would be about 10 racks.

        The real power consumer is the disk storage... And that would be about the same for both.
  • Someone is drinking far too much Kool-Aid

    "Some suppliers ... think that cloud computing will power the next 50 years of mainframe use"

    No one can accurately predict the future, so let's look at the past. 50 years ago was 1964. IBM's System/360 was announced on April 7, 1964. The means of input was usually via punch cards. The DECwriter would not be available for six more years. Virtual memory was a brand new concept. Assembler, Fortran, and Cobol were the latest languages, with C not arriving for a few more years. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were still in elementary school.

    Anyone who makes 50-year predictions regarding the cloud is either a science fiction writer or a cloud salesperson.
    • To IBM's credit

      It is in the thick of it with their quantum computing R&D. IBM does not appear to be resting upon its laurels.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • They never did.

        The only reason disks are now approaching 5TB per drive is due to the research IBM did (and patented). They then sold the drive manufacturing because they knew the price was going to drop dramatically when the technology hit the market.

        And they continue doing research...