Big Blue’s Big Strategy: Anything but Singing the Blues
The focal point of the strategy was the given in the following three announcements:
Engine 2.0: Providing the ability to pool, manage, and optimize IT
resources across servers, networking gear, and storage to improve the utilization
of IT assets, VE 2.0 enables virtualization across the entire enterprise and
beyond, through open interfaces, virtualization building blocks, and Web
services to connect
Today’s announcement is prime example of what can happen when a vendor has money and decides to invest it in R&D. A billion dollars or so later and suddenly there is a computer that out-performs, 2 to 1, one of the biggest, baddest systems ever, the T-Rex. Geeks and propeller heads rejoice: there are over 18 billion transistors in a fully configured 54-way System z9 and the ability to scale to stratosphere and perhaps a bit farther into outer space. This is a serious, rubber-burning, ultimate-performance IT racing machine.
But wait a minute, isn’t the z9 akin to a formula racing car? Sure, these are terrific in a well defined and safely enclosed environment like the race track, but they are completely impractical as an everyday transportation solution. Well, if one thinks superficially about the z9 perhaps that is all there is. However, to us what is really compelling about the System z9 is that it transcends the box itself and speaks of a future full of technologies originally developed both on the z9 and its predecessor zSeries such as virtualization, centralized management, etc., that are being made ever more available to the general marketplace.
represents one of the most significant achievements in IT during the last few
years; that is, virtualization of IT resources: not just CPU cycles, but
memory, storage, networking, and increasingly just about everything else IT.
This is where, not surprisingly, the Virtualization Engine 2.0 with its many
components including VE Console, IT Director, and Virtual Resource Manager to
name a few, comes into play. By obscuring the physical properties of the
computing environment, applications and data, users and their applications,
are able to focus upon the business process rather than the underlying
hardware. As a result, business process can dictate IT configuration and
usage patterns, not vice-versa. While virtualization is not new to
In a virtualized reality the z9 through its extensive virtualization support can become the centralized resource that manages all the virtual resources on the network, be they mainframes, other supported servers, Linux solutions, storage, or networking components. While some may see this as a dead ringer for the evil Master Control Program in the Disney movie TRON, we see the reality as far more benevolent. We believe that organizations grappling with server sprawl and cost pressures in maintaining their heterogeneous IT environments will welcome the centralized capabilities typified in the System z9 and the Virtualization Engine.
sounds good for the rarified high-end computing opportunity, but what about
the rest of us mere computing mortals? We believe the impact of
While the strategy and technology announced today do not reflect the entirety of IT nor provide the solution to all of the challenges that organizations will continue to face, we believe the quest for innovation and the corresponding investment in R&D are the right answer to create long-term solutions to IT challenges. Although there remains much work to do in realizing a truly virtualized, centralized, and interconnected demand-driven computing environment (data storage architectures come to mind), the efforts of Big Blue manifest today should not be underestimated. The issue is not whether the mainframe is dead (we believe that it has proven itself to be far from a flat line), nor whether the mainframe is the right solution for every computing need. Rather, the realization that all IT resources ultimately need to work together in a seamless, secure, and painless fashion is what today’s announcement is about. This is a laudable goal, not to mention a significant undertaking, but one with which we agree wholeheartedly. While other IT vendors may be singing the blues, we see Big Blue doing nothing of the sort.