Talking with Michael Madden, General Manager, and David Hodgson of CA's Mainframe group, I was touched by their infectious (and, in my opinion, justified) enthusiasm. It's also a good sign that if Mike Gregoire (CA Technologies' new CEO) is teaching CA Technologies about SaaS, CA Technologies is returning the favour with some interesting education on the future of the mainframe
Big news, for me, is the port of CA AppLogic, an application virtualisation tool, to z mainframes. What Application Virtualisation means is the encapsulation of a software application so that it runs independently of the underlying operating system - the virtualised application isn't installed, in the usual sense, but it executes (and appears to the user) as though it is. The application thinks it is writing to or reading from physical hardware but, in fact, it is writing to the encapsulating software layer. This aids provisioning and can reduce the complexity of supporting different platform variations.
As well as CA AppLogic, some varieties of Windows offer limited application virtualisation. Other competing products include Citrix XenApp, Novell ZENworks Application Virtualization, Microsoft Application Virtualization, and VMware ThinApp.
Now that CA Applogic runs on zEnterprise under Linux, you go a step further in the hardware abstraction story of the sort put forward by IBM with PureSystems. I like the PureSystems story - buy a cloud application platform in a box, never mind the technology - but the hardware underneath has to be rock solid and I have always wondered why IBM didn't put z under PureSystems (well, marketing, I suspect).
With CA AppLogic for z, you can make something that looks very like PureSystems from the business' point of view (the underlying technology/architecture is entirely different, of course) and sell virtualised application services on an ultra-reliable, ultra-resilient manageable z box - which may be in a cloud somewhere and provisioned using DevOps techniques. That's a pretty cool (resilient) platform and, shared in a cloud (remember, z is architected for multi-tenenting), it could be cheap too.
Now, I wonder if anyone is looking at actually marketing anything like that?