Mainframe Innovations

Mainframe Innovations

July 22, 2009 0 Comments

Unisys and IBM are attempting to rejuvenate the mainframe including the development of a new specialty engine that supports mobile users. In this podcast Gregg Willhoit offers his thoughts on the innovation happening on the mainframe. The podcast last for 3:15.

Click here for listen to the podcast:

Gregg Willhoit:

Just really excited about what’s going on on the mainframe, especially with the System z specialty engine offerings. Clearly they have been well received in the marketplace. Their original goal I think was to attract new workloads to the mainframe, as well as keep certain workloads on the mainframe from moving off, and I think IBM has really hit a home run with the specialty engines. I think it’s great that vendors like DataDirect are taking advantage of them to deliver a lower TCO to our customer base. I also think imitation is sincerest form of flattery. The fact that Unisys is beginning to offer specialty engines for certain types of workloads for Java or mobile phone applications, I think that’s great. Clearly there will probably be more vendors to follow.

IBM is probably going to release other specialty engines in the future, because the concept just works. It works for a number of reasons. One of the reasons I think it really works, besides the fact it’s lower TCO – much lower TCO – is that from an IBM manufacturing standpoint, I think it’s fairly cost effective for them to offer specialty engines since they’re really based on their workhorse, the standard System z processor.

In my travels, and I’ve been traveling a lot visiting companies on almost every content it seems like, specialty engines are really taking hold. We’re seeing really rapid adoption of the zIIP processor, which of course lowers TCO by allowing enclave SRB users to offload their CPU workload to the zIIP. One of the first adopters of that was DB2, and DataDirect was the first middleware product to provide for significant zIIP offload, and we’re continuing to expand on that.

It’s incredible the interest in the zIIP. It has really been ramping up over the past six or eight months. I think the economy has had something to do with it – it’s kind of like a perfect storm. You’ve got an increase in the number of products exploiting the zIIP. You’ve got the zIIP itself which has an incredibly low entry price, and low operating expense to the lack of MSU based license charges. Then you’ve got the economy, and all that entails – people are looking to run more efficiently.

On the other hand, other than TCO, there is a lot more that these innovations are brining. IBM is doing really interesting things with gaming and specialty engines. One of the most interesting things that I’ve heard of – not really related to my business but definitely specialty engine related -- is IBM’s work with Hoplon Infotainment with regard to specialty engines in the gaming world. That is creating blazingly fast, massively multiple player RPG type game environments using System z. I mean who would of thunk it? It’s pretty amazing, and it’s going to be really interesting to see what comes of that.

I think the specialty engine market is still a significantly growing market, and will be for sometime to come. I think it will be exciting to see what else IBM comes out with regarding specialty engines.

Gregg Willhoit

View all posts from Gregg Willhoit on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.

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