Services -> KPO
By: Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst, Interarbor Solutions
Published: 5th June 2009
Copyright Interarbor Solutions © 2009
Enterprises are seeking cloud computing efficiency benefits, subsequent lower total costs, and a highly valued ability to better deliver flexible services that support agile business processes.
out so-called private clouds, or those cloud computing models that
enterprises deploy and/or control on-premises, have a lot in common
with longstanding mainframe computing models and techniques. Back to the future, you might say.
New developments in mainframe automation and other technologies increasingly support the use of mainframes for delivering cloud-computing advantages—and help accelerate the ability to solve recession-era computing challenges around cost, power, energy use and reliability.
More evidence of the alignment between mainframes, mainframe automation and management, and cloud computing comes with the announcement that CA has purchased key assets of Cassatt Corp., maker of service level automation and service level agreement (SLA) management software.
I had the pleasure to recently learn more about how the mainframe is in many respects the cloud in a sponsored podcast interview with Chris O'Malley, executive vice president and general manager for CA's Mainframe Business Unit.
Here are some excerpts:
Gardner: What makes cloud so appealing and feasible right now?
O'Malley: Cloud as a concept is, in its most basic sense, virtualizing
resources within the data center to gain that scale of efficiency and
optimization. ... Physically there are many, many servers that support
the ongoing operations of a business. CFOs and CEOs are starting to ask
simple, but insightful, questions about why we need all these servers
and to what degree these servers are being utilized.
get answers back and it's something like 15, 10, or 5 percent
utilization, it begs for a solution to the problem to start bringing a
scale of virtualization to optimize the overall data center to what has
been done on the mainframe for years and years.
... It's about
both the need from a business standpoint of trying to respond to
reduced cost of computing and increased efficiency at a time when the
technologies are becoming increasingly available to customers to manage
distributed environments or open systems in a way similar to the
Larger customers are using their mainframe in a
highly virtualized way. They've been doing it for 30 years. It was the
genesis of the platform. ... They try to get as much out of it as they
possibly can. So, from its beginning, it was virtualized.
The viability of things like salesforce.com, CRM, and the need to coordinate that data
with what for most customers is 80 percent of their mission-critical
information residing on the mainframe is making people figure out how
to fix those problems. It's making this cloud slowly, but
pragmatically, come true and become a reality in helping to better
support their businesses.
The distributed environment and the open-system environment,
in terms of its genesis, was the reverse of what I described in the
mainframe. The mainframe, at some point, I think in the early '90s, was
considered to be too slow to evolve to meet the needs of business. You
heard things like mounting backlog and that innovation wasn't coming to
In that frustration, departments wanted their server with
their application to serve their needs. It created a significant base
of islands, if you will, within the enterprise that led to these
scenarios where people are running servers at 15, 10, or 5 percent
utilization. That genesis has been the basic fiber of the way people
think in most of these organizations.
This 15 or 10 percent
utilization is what we consistently see, customer after customer after
customer. ... You're seeing the pendulum come back. This is just
getting too expensive, too complex, and too hard to keep up with
business demands, which sounds a lot like what people's objections were
about the mainframe 20 years ago. We're now seeing that maybe a
centralized model is a better way to serve our needs.
Gardner: How does that relate to where the modern mainframe is?
The modern mainframe is effectively an on-demand engine. IBM has
created now an infrastructure that, as your needs grow, turns on
additional engines that are already housed in the box. With the z10,
IBM has a platform that is effectively an in-house utility ... With the
z10 and the ability to expand capacity on demand, it's very attractive
for customers to handle these peaks, but not pay for it all year long.
The mainframe has always been very good at resilience from a security
standpoint. The attributes that make up that which is required for a
mission-critical application are basically what make your brand. So,
the mainframe has always been the home for those kinds of things. It
will continue to be.
We're just making the economics better over
time. The attributes that are professed or promised for the cloud on
the distributed side are being realized today by many mainframe
customers and are doing great work. It's not just a hope or a promise.
There is some disconnect, though, cultural and even generational. A lot
of the younger folks, brought up with the Web, think of cloud
applications as being Web applications.
Despite all these good things that I've said about the mainframe, there
are still some nagging issues. The people who tend to work on them tend
to be the same ones who worked on them 30 years ago. The technology
that wraps it hasn't been updated to the more intuitive interfaces that
you're talking about.
CA is taking a lead in re-engineering our toolset to look more like a Mac than it does like a green screen. We have a brand new strategy called Mainframe 2.0, which we introduced at CA World last year. We're showing initial deliverables of that technology here in May.
... Our first technology within Mainframe 2.0, is called the Mainframe Software Manager. It's effectively InstallShield
for the mainframe. We developed that with 20-somethings. In our Prague
data center, we recruited 120 students out of school and they developed
that in Java on a mainframe. ... We have 25-year-old people in Prague
that have written lines of code that, within the next 12 months, we'll
be running at the top 1,000 companies on the face of the earth. There
aren't a lot of jobs in life that present you that kind of opportunity.
... The mainframe technologically can do a lot, if not everything you can do on the distributed side, especially with what z/Linux
offers. But, we've got to take what is a trillion dollars of investment
that runs in the legacy virtual operating system environment and bring
that up to 2009 and beyond.
... An open system has its virtues
and has its limits. We're raising the abstract to the point where, in a
collective cloud, you're just going to use what's best and right for
the nature of work you're doing without really even knowing whether
this is a mainframe application -- either in z/OS,
or z/Linux -- or it's Linux on the open system side or HP-UX. That's
where things are going. At that point, the cloud becomes true in the
promise where it's being touted at the moment.
To be very honest, it's very important that we bring a cool factor to the mainframe to make it a platform that's equally compelling to any other. When you do that, you create some interesting dynamics to getting the next generation excited about it.
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