zEnterprise: Stand Alone Private Cloud?

By Steve Guendert, Ph.D

SHARE Deputy Director

Without a doubt, Cloud Computing is the hottest topic in information technology today. At the October Gartner Symposium/ITxpo held in Orlando, FL, Gartner identified Cloud Computing as the #1 (of 10) strategic technology for 2011. Gartner specifically stated "Cloud computing services exist along a spectrum from open public to closed private. The next three years will see the delivery of a range of cloud service approaches that fall between these two extremes. Vendors will offer packaged private cloud implementations that deliver the vendor's public cloud service technologies (software and/or hardware) and methodologies (i.e., best practices to build and run the service) in a form that can be implemented inside the consumer's enterprise. Many will also offer management services to remotely manage the cloud service implementation."

Cloud computing is network based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers, and other devices on demand, similar in function to the electricity grid. The fundamental concept of cloud computing is that the computing is "in the cloud" i.e. that the processing (and the related data) is not in a specified, known or the same place(s). This is in opposition to traditional data center architectures where the processing takes place in one or more specific servers that are known. Noted computer scientist and 1971 ACM Turing Award winner John McCarthy started the discussion back in the 1960's when he famously opined that "computation may someday be organized as a public utility". Further comparison to the electricity industry and the use of public, private, government and community forms of cloud computing and nearly all its modern-day characteristics (elastic provision, provided as a utility, online, illusion of infinite supply), was thoroughly explored in Douglas Parkhill's 1966 book, The Challenge of the Computer Utility. Cloud computing is often viewed as the logical step in the evolution of the widespread adoption of virtualization, and service oriented architectures.

In other words, cloud computing as a concept has been around for nearly as long as IBM mainframes. The IBM mainframe, when paired with zLinux has even been seen in the recent past as a precursor to the cloud concept. Remember this commercial?

In July, as most SHARE members know, IBM announced the next generation mainframe: the z196. Also announced was the zBX or z Blade Center Extension. Put the two together and you have the zEnterprise. IBM as a company has fully embraced Cloud Computing, as has nearly every major vendor in the industry. The z196 is expected to play a major role in cloud computing, particularly when paired with a zBX as a zEnterprise. The z Enterprise provides not only the industry leading performance of the z196, but now the same robust management platform, software, and techniques can be used to manage xSeries and Power blade servers.

Key features or components of private cloud architectures are agility, cost savings, multi-tenancy, reliability, scalability, security, and easy metering of resource usage. IBM uses Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu Limited (ELCOT), an Indian government owned provider of information and communications services to government agencies in Tamil Nadu as an early example of a z private cloud. To deliver the services and reduce costs ELCOT turned to a System z9 as a consolidation server. The z9 has the capacity to run a workload that is equivalent to 250 Linux/x86 server workloads and support Web services, SOA, Linux, and Eclipse infrastructure and essentially deliver it as a private cloud.

Fast forward to the zEnterprise, and imagine how much more workload a zEnterprise private cloud could handle with the zBX. Imagine the performance, cost savings, agility, and flexibility and scalability it brings to the private cloud.

The zEnterprise takes the paradigm of cloud computing and turns it around. Yes, a platform can be a cloud unto itself. And not just a cloud, but a big powerful cumulonimbus cloud.