IBM reinvents mainframe again; this time for cloud

Another iteration, another adequate product, some relief for users

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Image courtesy Pargon on Flickr

IBM is using relevant but aging data-center technology to present its products as the ones big companies should use to tie together increasingly disparate IT infrastructures that span not only multiple data centers, but both internal and external clouds as well.

Yesterday it announced an upgrade to its Tivoli network- and systems-management product, which already has a module called Provisioning Manager designed to deploy virtual machines on a whole list of operating systems, including VMware's virtualization platform , but not Citrix' Xen or Microsoft's Hyper-V.

It announced Tivoli would manage provisioning in the cloud, but only on its own IBM Smart Business cloud platform, not those from any other public cloud provider. Its Tivoli Monitoring tool manages OSes, databases and servers on clouds IBM's cloud and Amazon's, but not, apparently, anyone else's.

It is pushing its zEnterprise mainframe – a revamped version of an increasingly ancient technology that, in this incarnation is a "system of systems" designed to incorporate all of IBM's best data-center architectures and extend mainframe-quality control, data management and integration into both private and hybrid clouds.

The system's Unified Resource Manager (zManager), for example, is designed as a way to apply usage policies on servers, memory, VMs and data on a whole series of data centers or clouds. Among its strongest features is "workload context" that creates a profile for individual applications sketching out the resources it requires on both physical and virtual systems, including storage and networking requirements. It can then monitor those applications wherever they run to make adjustments and keep performance within SLA requirements.

Which, like a lot of mainframe-era and mainframe fan descriptions of what Big Iron can or should do, is really impressive, in a pompous, archaic way.

zEnterprise sparked a leap of 69.1 percent increase in sales of mainframes following its debut in July of last year, according to the most recent IDC survey of global server sales, which is kind of shocking.

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