Mainframe Propeller Head

Mar 8 2009   2:53PM GMT

Run your blade server like it’s a mainframe LPAR

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

What if you could run your blade server as if it were an extension of your mainframe? The concept is there, the reality not too far away, according to IBM.

At the Share mainframe user group conference last week in Austin, I got a chance to meet with Karl Freund, IBM senior VP of strategy for System z. Freund gave the System z keynote at the show on dynamic infrastructure, laying out some future trends and directions for the platform. I missed the keynote but was able to talk to Freund later, where he outlined the vision that he spoke about in his presentation.

“It will be like being able to treat those blade servers as if they were System z, from a systems management perspective,” he said. “Extending the z role to a heterogeneous environment.”

A user last week asked me if IBM would ever come out with a mainframe in a 19″ rack. This looks like the company’s answer.

According to Freund, it would be like running a blade server as if it were another logical partition (LPAR) on your mainframe. Though there is little comparison between the hardware of a mainframe and an Intel blade, Freund said management will be easier, being able to handle one systems management console, and having failover going to the same sysplex, rather than using different backup platforms.

Presumably this would make it easier for your front-end apps on your blade servers to communicate and get along with back-end database and ERP applications on the mainframe.

When the technology is coming out Freund wouldn’t divulge, but he did claim it would come in bits and pieces. Customers interested in it can contact IBM and might be able to get more details under a non-disclosure agreement. And he said IBM is unveiling this future trend so that data centers out there can start planning for it.

And how to plan for it? Freund gave an example: Suppose a company is building out its SAP platform, the data for which is on System z. Let’s say they decide to use blade servers on the front-end, and initially was leaning toward blades from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Sun or some other blade provider.

“Now they might decide to put it on BladeCenter because it will be supported,” he said. “They also may decide to put it on Linux because it will be supported on Linux and AIX first.”

Oh. So IBM is divulging this future mainframe technology so it can sell more BladeCenters?

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