Mainframe, CMG, Virtualization, Storage and “Zombie Technologies”

February 26, 2008 – 2:12 pm

In case you missed the news, IBM today announced a new mainframe the z10, yes, that’s right, the mother of all “Zombie Technologies” (and I say this with all due respect), you know, technologies that are declared dead yet are viable, working and still living thus purchasable. Some other examples of Zombie technologies include magnetic tape which was declared dead at least ten years ago if not longer yet continues to evolve, granted a bit slower and with fewer vendors, yet the technology is still economically viable when paired up with disk to disk based backup as an off-line (read no power required) medium for preserving idle and inactive archive data. Another example of a Zombie technology is the printer as you may recall we were supposed to be completely paperless by now, yeh right.

Then there is Fibre Channel which was declared still born over a decade ago yet shows plenty of signs of life in the form of 8GFC (8Gb Fibre Channel) and emerging FCoE even with iSCSI waging another assault to kill the FC beast. Even the venerable 50 year old magnetic disk drive has been declared a dead technology with the re-emergence of SSD in the form of DRAM and FLASH yet magnetic hard disk drives (HDD) continue to be manufactured and shipped in record numbers making it a member of the Zombie technology club, a club that has some pretty esteemed members and more on the way.

I forget how many decades ago it was now that the IBM mainframe was declared dead and granted we have seen the exodus of Hitachi, Amdahl, NEC and others from the active marketplace developing and selling IBM plug compatible mainframes (PCMs). However the venerable mainframe from IBM like the energizer bunny keeps ticking and finding new roles including leveraging its built-in logical partition (LPAR) capabilities to support virtual machines, something that has been available for at least a few decades to enable being leveraged as a consolidation platform of not only legacy zOS (aka revamped MVS) and zVM (not to be confused with VMware) as well native Linux.

Shifting gears a bit, last week I had the pleasure of key-noting at a local Computer Measurement Group (CMG) event, a group that I have been involved with presenting at their events around the world for over a decade. Last weeks theme at the CMG event was Is Storage and I/O Still Important in a Virtual World? If you are not familiar with the CMG folks and you have an interesting in servers, storage, I/O and networking along with performance, capacity planning and virtualization these are some people to get to know. Granted the organization has its roots back in the mainframe era and thus the organization is a gazillion years old, yet, younger than the mainframe however not by much. Over the past several years with the advent of lower cost hardware and the attitude of hardware is cheap, just throw more hardware at the problem has in part led to the decline of what CMG once was as an organization.

However, given the collective knowledge base and broad background, skills and areas of interest spanning servers, storage, I/O, networking, virtualization, hardware, software, mainframe and open systems among others, given the current focus on addressing IT data center power, cooling, floor space and associated ecological and economic related topics (see CMG has an opportunity to revive itself even more so than it has over the past few years. That is, CMG assuming its leaders and members can recognize the opportunity can stand up to take a lead role in tying together the skills and knowledge to implement cross technology domain IT infrastructure resource management including working with facilities personal to insure adequate resources (servers, storage, networking, power, cooling and floor space) are available when and where needed moving forward not to mention help shape and guide the server, storage and networking industry groups and forums on applicable metrics and measurement usage. If you are not familiar with CMG, check them out, it’s a good group with a lot of good subject matter expertise to tap into.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
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