Mainframe Propeller Head

Nov 28 2008   1:39PM GMT

Analyst group disses Hewlett-Packard report about mainframe migration

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

It’s not every day that an analyst group refutes vendor news that includes research from said analyst. Especially when it was research that the vendor, in this case Hewlett-Packard, sponsored. It’s a rare occurrence.

But that’s what happened recently in the midst of the ongoing battle between IBM selling its mainframes and everyone else selling mainframe migration. Earlier this month, HP announced that in the last three years, 250 users had migrated off the mainframe onto its Itanium-based servers. As part of the report, HP cited an analyst report from the Robert Frances Group that identified a customer moving off a z9 mainframe, to the reported tune of $23 million in hardware and software savings. The report, entitled “Breaking the Power Deadlock: The Power and Cooling Benefits of Running on Open Systems,” was sponsored by HP and Microsoft. You can see the full report at Microsoft’s Website.

Here’s what HP said in regards to the analyst report:

According to Robert Frances Group, a leading provider of consulting and research, the capital savings range from $1.5 million up to $23 million, with up to an additional operational cost savings of more than $4 million over four years. The study shows HP Integrity servers consumed 41 percent less energy and used 48 percent less space than the IBM z9 mainframes they replaced.

Needless to say, the Robert Frances Group took issue with that paragraph.

Last week HP issued a press release that referenced this report in which readers can infer that RFG believes a new HP system is always less expensive than a new comparable IBM System z. The report did not make such an analysis and made no comparative statements of that nature.

This is a misleading conclusion that RFG does not support. RFG has long stated that the mainframe is one of the best and most energy efficient platform options. RFG has written many research reports stating that mainframes should be considered and used in certain environments and RFG stands by those statements.

The release concluded, “A true and auditable (total cost of ownership analysis) would need to be performed before any vendor can make specific claims, and an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison should evaluate target environments.”

Predictably, IBM jumped on the controversy, with Jim Porell writing on the Mainframe Typepad blog about it. And Timothy Sipples later wrote, “Memo to HP: if you want to earn the respect and trust of customers, don’t fib.”

Really, the only thing that’s not par for the course here is RFG calling out HP. That’s unusual. But vendors are in the business of selling their goods.  All of them, including IBM, “interpret” research and find the right benchmarks that make their hardware and software look good.

2  Comments on this Post

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  • Tuomoks
    Does anybody who counts (makes decisions) take vendor reports seriously? As the article says - all vendors are there to make money and it is up to the consumers / users / customers / .. to do the homework. Yes - even the vendor (supported) studies, evaluations, benchmarks, etc have a value but only if you know how to read them! Anyway, it has been mainframes against other types of systems / infrastructure a long, long time and for some strange(?) reason people get hurt because they don't (want to?) understand the differences. The fact that no hardware (nor software) is suitable for everything has to be learned over and over again. For certain tasks as massive data processing or high security you can't beat mainframes even today, maybe in 20 to 30 years? Many have tried, many have failed. Today IBM has kind of monopoly in mainframes - Amdahl, Hitachi, etc are gone (unfortunately IMHO), HP, SUN, etc are not mainframes, not even near. The funny thing (a myth!) about mainframes is that they are difficult and need a lot of support personnel - WRONG! It is much easier to manage a mainframe environment than for example MS Exchange (or whatever) or Apache or WebSphere or .. and they are just one application environments! Maybe the corporations / companies should look the reason why the IT organization is so big - maybe it has more to do with "management" style (more head-count == more power == more money) than the real needs - has anyone ever thought about that? OK, back to the the topic. Even IBM has problems selling the mainframe, too many distractions! AIX is as good Unix as you can get, IBM servers / blades / whatever support Solaris, Windows, Linux - another issue.. Or think about virtual machines (think back to 60's!) - IBM has killed VM many times and started it again? Where do you think VM's and LPAR's etc came? Running thousands of separate system in a box size of a fridge?
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  • Jelo
    Tuomoks is on the button: same-old, same-old. Everybody born since 1980 thinks Fibre Channel is new stuff: in fact ICL (International Computers Limited, a UK company) was using fiber-connected disk storage in the mid-80s already in their VME mainframes, with multiple redundant paths and load balancing..... They had a 4-node HA cluster connected with a processor-to-processor multi-optical fiber interface. They pioneered Virtual Machines. They pioneered running UNIX in a VM shell. They kicked IBM butt big-time, but their pathetic marketing and consequent low market share finally sunk them.
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