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Mainframes in today's desktop/laptop envoronments.

 
 
Matthew Poole
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      08-03-2005
On Wed, 03 Aug 2005 18:42:37 +1200, someone purporting to be Stu Fleming
didst scrawl:

> Matthew Poole wrote:
>

*SNIP*
>> A mainframe is a design, not any specific coupling of hardware and
>> software. Running Linux doesn't stop it being a mainframe provided that it
>> meets all the other requirements about I/O, hardware and software
>> redundancy and failover, etc.

>
> Mainframe still has the "monolithic" connotation, though. There are many
> creative solutions to provide high-performance computing (by any of the useful
> mesaures - processing power, redudancy, connectivity, storage) by designs
> other than big iron.
>

And "trusted family GP" has connotations of a man in his 50s or 60s,
slightly portly, been around forever.
The z-Series and S/390 have been around since before IBM got the Linux
bug. They were considered to be mainframes then. I didn't realise that
changing the OS could completely alter a system and make it into nothing
more than a glorified server.

--
Matthew Poole
"Don't use force. Get a bigger hammer."

 
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thingy
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      08-03-2005
Crash wrote:
> One thing we don't discuss much in this ng is the ongoing role of
> mainframes. From past posts on related subjects there are at least a few
> in here that are interested in this - whereas most associate mainframes
> with legacy applications. The implication is that both are purely in
> the ready-for-retirement category.
>
> Most of you who care will be aware of my Unisys background. I am
> intrigued though that Unisys and presumably others continue to believe
> that mainframes can play a role beyond holding up retirement-age
> applications. Are other mainframe manufacturers doing the same? Is the
> mainframe truly a dead end?
>
> As an example, this is a recent Unisys press release:
>
> http://www.unisys.com/about__unisys/...s/07258560.htm
>
> Anyone else headed in this direction?
>
> Crash.



I believe IBM sold more mainframes in the last year or two than in the
previous few years after they ported Linux to it, they saw a big
re-surgence in interest.

I think they sold 1 or 2 to a large swedish ISP so it could do virtual
web hosting with thousands of Linux instances. There have been some others.

I think the mainframe is still very valid technology, in fact its almsot
more secure in its niche than Unix is in the data centre. There are lots
of legacy stuff running on A series, EDS has a few I think they are IRD
boxes if I recall which is not practical to move. So its quite possible
that with Linux on the main frame sustaining it at the top and Linux and
windows on the bottom pushing up, Unix might get squeezed out of existance.

regards

Thing

 
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Bob McLellan
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      08-03-2005
Think 'computing environment' rather than 'desktop'. Mainframes are all
about bandwidth and databases. In particular, enabling access to a
single copy of a database in a high bandwidth environment. Sure you can
run distributed databases but that is not the answer to this situation.

Crash wrote:
> One thing we don't discuss much in this ng is the ongoing role of
> mainframes. From past posts on related subjects there are at least a few
> in here that are interested in this - whereas most associate mainframes
> with legacy applications. The implication is that both are purely in
> the ready-for-retirement category.
>
> Most of you who care will be aware of my Unisys background. I am
> intrigued though that Unisys and presumably others continue to believe
> that mainframes can play a role beyond holding up retirement-age
> applications. Are other mainframe manufacturers doing the same? Is the
> mainframe truly a dead end?
>
> As an example, this is a recent Unisys press release:
>
> http://www.unisys.com/about__unisys/...s/07258560.htm
>
> Anyone else headed in this direction?
>
> Crash.


 
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Crash
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      08-03-2005
Matthew Poole wrote:
> On Wed, 03 Aug 2005 18:24:34 +1200, someone purporting to be Crash didst
> scrawl:
>
>
>>Bok wrote:

>
> *SNIP*
>
>>>IBM Z-Series are normally considered to be mainframes.
>>>

>>
>>Linux and mainframe don't connect. By my definition a mainframe environment
>>requires the use of a proprietary operating system originally designed to run
>>only on the same vendor's hardware.
>>

>
> IBM would probably be a little miffed that you don't consider the z-Series
> or the S/390s to be mainframes. I think HP will be a little ****ed that
> you don't think their non-stop computing stuff will qualify as mainframes
> either.
> A mainframe is a design, not any specific coupling of hardware and
> software. Running Linux doesn't stop it being a mainframe provided that it
> meets all the other requirements about I/O, hardware and software
> redundancy and failover, etc.
>

I should probably be more specific then.

In my book mainframes were originally machines that ran an operating system on
hardware that came from the same vendor. Compare this to Windows and other OS's
where the OS vendor never makes the hardware. These days this expands a little
perhaps - where the proprietary OS vendor allows the OS to run on hardware not
entirely made by the OS vendor - an example of this is the Unisys Clearpath line
where some of the hardware is Intel processors - but the box still comes from
Unisys.

Linux on IBM hardware that is also capable of running a proprietary IBM OS is
therefore a mainframe only when sold with the proprietary OS. When sold with
Linux it is a Linux box, not a mainframe.

The unique characteristics of a mainframe are twofold:

- Reliability only possible with tight OS integration with the hardware it runs on.

- Scalability to handle large workload.

Crash.
 
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Crash
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      08-03-2005
thingy wrote:
[snip]

> I believe IBM sold more mainframes in the last year or two than in the
> previous few years after they ported Linux to it, they saw a big
> re-surgence in interest.
>

No, my opinion is that they sold more hardware units by allowing some hardware
formerly running only a proprietary IBM OS to also run Linux.

> I think they sold 1 or 2 to a large swedish ISP so it could do virtual
> web hosting with thousands of Linux instances. There have been some others.
>
> I think the mainframe is still very valid technology, in fact its almsot
> more secure in its niche than Unix is in the data centre. There are lots
> of legacy stuff running on A series, EDS has a few I think they are IRD
> boxes if I recall which is not practical to move. So its quite possible
> that with Linux on the main frame sustaining it at the top and Linux and
> windows on the bottom pushing up, Unix might get squeezed out of existance.


Understood but as I said in an earlier response there are two areas in which
mainframes are unique and Linux is disqualified from one of them - meaning that
no Linux box can ever be a mainframe.

Crash.
 
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Shane
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      08-03-2005
On Wed, 03 Aug 2005 20:16:05 +1200, Crash wrote:

> Matthew Poole wrote:
>> On Wed, 03 Aug 2005 18:24:34 +1200, someone purporting to be Crash didst
>> scrawl:
>>
>>
>>>Bok wrote:

>>
>> *SNIP*
>>
>>>>IBM Z-Series are normally considered to be mainframes.
>>>>
>>>>
>>>Linux and mainframe don't connect. By my definition a mainframe
>>>environment requires the use of a proprietary operating system
>>>originally designed to run only on the same vendor's hardware.
>>>
>>>

>> IBM would probably be a little miffed that you don't consider the
>> z-Series or the S/390s to be mainframes. I think HP will be a little
>> ****ed that you don't think their non-stop computing stuff will qualify
>> as mainframes either.
>> A mainframe is a design, not any specific coupling of hardware and
>> software. Running Linux doesn't stop it being a mainframe provided that
>> it meets all the other requirements about I/O, hardware and software
>> redundancy and failover, etc.
>>

> I should probably be more specific then.
>
> In my book mainframes were originally machines that ran an operating
> system on hardware that came from the same vendor. Compare this to
> Windows and other OS's where the OS vendor never makes the hardware.
> These days this expands a little perhaps - where the proprietary OS vendor
> allows the OS to run on hardware not entirely made by the OS vendor - an
> example of this is the Unisys Clearpath line where some of the hardware is
> Intel processors - but the box still comes from Unisys.
>
> Linux on IBM hardware that is also capable of running a proprietary IBM OS
> is therefore a mainframe only when sold with the proprietary OS. When
> sold with Linux it is a Linux box, not a mainframe.
>
> The unique characteristics of a mainframe are twofold:
>
> - Reliability only possible with tight OS integration with the hardware it
> runs on.
>
> - Scalability to handle large workload.
>
> Crash.


That definition fits for an Apple Macintosh, or Nokia Phone
An SGI indy, or a calculator, or even a Palm Pilot.
Blue Gene is running linux isnt it?

--
Hardware, n.: The parts of a computer system that can be kicked

The best way to get the right answer on usenet is to post the wrong one.

 
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JohnO
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      08-03-2005
Wold you therefore consider an Apple][ to be a mainframe? What about a
TRS-80, Sinclair ZX-80 or a Commodore Pet?

I consider a mainframe to be a machine designed to process large
amounds of business transactions reliably. They typically achieve this
by more powerful storage, memory and cpu subsystems than workstation
class machines.

 
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JohnO
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      08-03-2005
'Processing power' could mean may things. To some, that would be CPU
processing. You can't do much better than massively parallel multi cpu
systems that are often little more than a large number of PCs closely
coupled and running Linux!

To others from a less scientific, more business background, processing
power would be number of database transactions per second, along with a
means of controlling, allocating and managing the power. For this, it
is very hard to beat genuine modern mainframes.

 
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Spam Blackhole
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Posts: n/a
 
      08-03-2005
In article <m0He.5446$(E-Mail Removed)>,
Crash <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>The unique characteristics of a mainframe are twofold:
>
>- Reliability only possible with tight OS integration with the hardware it runs on.
>
>- Scalability to handle large workload.


By this definition, IBM's zSeries are mainframes even when running (many
copies of) Linux. They don't run on the bare iron, they run in virtual
machines provided by a (very) secure supervisor OS. I had to chuckle when
IBM first announced the Linux capability, I overheard some young hacker
doodz bragging how they were going to hack into such a system. Basically,
if you can root one of the Linux instances you can crash it(*). But that's
it - you can't affect any other instance or the supervisor. IBM has had 25
to 30 years of practice in designing and implementing secure supervisor OSes
together with the hardware they run on. z/OS is many times more secure than
any other general-purpose OS - its distant ancestor, MVS/ESA, received a B1
security rating (network connected, too) 10 years ago and IBM certainly
haven't been standing still since.

(*) Remember that the "Linux" is recompiled for zSeries, so existing
exploits are unlikely to apply due to different memory layout and protection
architecture.

--
Don Hills (dmhills at attglobaldotnet) Wellington, New Zealand
"New interface closely resembles Presentation Manager,
preparing you for the wonders of OS/2!"
-- Microsoft advertisement on the box for Windows 2.11 for 286
 
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shannon
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      08-03-2005
JohnO wrote:
> Wold you therefore consider an Apple][ to be a mainframe? What about a
> TRS-80, Sinclair ZX-80 or a Commodore Pet?
>
> I consider a mainframe to be a machine designed to process large
> amounds of business transactions reliably. They typically achieve this
> by more powerful storage, memory and cpu subsystems than workstation
> class machines.
>


You probably need a definition thats more specific than that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainframe
 
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