Mainframes in today's desktop/laptop envoronments.

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Crash, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. Crash

    Crash Guest

    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/news_a_events/07258560.htm

    Anyone else headed in this direction?

    Crash.
    Crash, Aug 2, 2005
    #1
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  2. Crash

    Bok Guest

    Crash wrote:
    > 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/news_a_events/07258560.htm
    >
    > Anyone else headed in this direction?


    One of our major clients in the UK, runs our software on a Unisys ES7000
    running Windows Data Center. We also have ports for linux on IBM
    Z-Series and P-Series.

    BTW: I notice from the link you provided Daiutu is reporting from Blue
    Bell, last time I ran into him he was in charge of the Treddy plant
    (can't remember if he was a VP then, looks like he has moved up in the
    Unisys hierarchy).
    Bok, Aug 2, 2005
    #2
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  3. Crash

    Crash Guest

    Bok wrote:
    > Crash wrote:
    >
    >> 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/news_a_events/07258560.htm
    >>
    >> Anyone else headed in this direction?

    >
    >
    > One of our major clients in the UK, runs our software on a Unisys ES7000
    > running Windows Data Center. We also have ports for linux on IBM
    > Z-Series and P-Series.


    Yeah but they used to use a mainframe did they not? Any planned ports to a
    mainframe? ;-)
    >
    > BTW: I notice from the link you provided Daiutu is reporting from Blue
    > Bell, last time I ran into him he was in charge of the Treddy plant
    > (can't remember if he was a VP then, looks like he has moved up in the
    > Unisys hierarchy).


    Joe McGrath is Unisys CEO - runs the company - with 9 direct reports, one of
    whom is Leo Daiuto. Leo heads up Systems & Technology.

    Crash.
    Crash, Aug 2, 2005
    #3
  4. Crash

    Bok Guest

    Crash wrote:
    > Bok wrote:
    >> One of our major clients in the UK, runs our software on a Unisys
    >> ES7000 running Windows Data Center. We also have ports for linux on
    >> IBM Z-Series and P-Series.

    >
    > Yeah but they used to use a mainframe did they not?

    I guess you know the site I'm referring to. They had a V-Series box when
    I first had anything to do with them and later moved to A-Series
    architecture.

    > Any planned ports to a mainframe? ;-)

    IBM Z-Series are normally considered to be mainframes.
    Bok, Aug 2, 2005
    #4
  5. "Crash" <> wrote in message
    news:r7EHe.5190$...
    > 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/news_a_events/07258560.htm
    >
    > Anyone else headed in this direction?
    >
    > Crash.


    Mainframes will exist for a long time to come. Some business are just so big
    they must have the unparalleled processing power of a proprietary mainframe.
    news.xtra.co.nz, Aug 2, 2005
    #5
  6. In article <42efd369$>, Bok <> wrote:
    >IBM Z-Series are normally considered to be mainframes.


    The internal project name for the Z-Series was "T Rex". When it was
    announced, one of the publicity posters showed a dinosaur savaging some PC
    systems. The slogan was, "Dinosaurs: we're back, and we're pissed."

    --
    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
    Spam Blackhole, Aug 3, 2005
    #6
  7. Crash

    steve Guest

    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?


    IBM has been marketing mainframes as - in effect - super servers.

    There still isn't much around that can touch mainframes for the sheer
    volume of transactions (and data) they can handle.

    Another version of the mainframe sees it replacing individual
    Intel-based servers.......

    For example, an IBM mainframe might be configured to look and act like
    500 linux-based file and print servers (actually virtual machines all
    running on one mainframe) for a large office or on a large network. The
    Canadian banks do stuff like this over their networks out to the
    branches....IIRC.

    These servers would replace the equivalent in Microsoft server licences,
    500 Intel servers...and the support staff required to support the same.

    Overall....the cost case for the mainframe in such a configuration is
    compelling.

    I mention IBM because I know they do it. If any other vendor offers this
    sort of thing - then good on'em.
    steve, Aug 3, 2005
    #7
  8. Crash

    Crash Guest

    Bok wrote:
    > Crash wrote:
    >
    >> Bok wrote:
    >>
    >>> One of our major clients in the UK, runs our software on a Unisys
    >>> ES7000 running Windows Data Center. We also have ports for linux on
    >>> IBM Z-Series and P-Series.

    >>
    >>
    >> Yeah but they used to use a mainframe did they not?

    >
    > I guess you know the site I'm referring to. They had a V-Series box when
    > I first had anything to do with them and later moved to A-Series
    > architecture.
    >
    >> Any planned ports to a mainframe? ;-)

    >
    > 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.

    Crash.
    Crash, Aug 3, 2005
    #8
  9. 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 pissed 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.

    --
    Matthew Poole
    "Don't use force. Get a bigger hammer."
    Matthew Poole, Aug 3, 2005
    #9
  10. Crash

    Stu Fleming Guest

    Matthew Poole wrote:

    > 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 pissed that
    > you don't think their non-stop computing stuff will qualify as mainframes
    > either.


    There was an article on Slashdot last week regarding Linux and its importance
    to the HP non-stop division. Can't find that right now, but the reference is
    to an earlier article.
    e.g. http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;59557404;relcomp;1

    > 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.

    Stu

    --
    IT Management. Tel: +64 3 479 5478
    Web and database hosting, Co-location. Web: http://www.wic.co.nz
    Software development. Email:
    Stu Fleming, Aug 3, 2005
    #10
  11. 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."
    Matthew Poole, Aug 3, 2005
    #11
  12. Crash

    thingy Guest

    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/news_a_events/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
    thingy, Aug 3, 2005
    #12
  13. Crash

    Bob McLellan Guest

    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/news_a_events/07258560.htm
    >
    > Anyone else headed in this direction?
    >
    > Crash.
    Bob McLellan, Aug 3, 2005
    #13
  14. Crash

    Crash Guest

    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 pissed 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.
    Crash, Aug 3, 2005
    #14
  15. Crash

    Crash Guest

    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.
    Crash, Aug 3, 2005
    #15
  16. Crash

    Shane Guest

    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
    >> pissed 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.
    Shane, Aug 3, 2005
    #16
  17. Crash

    JohnO Guest

    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.
    JohnO, Aug 3, 2005
    #17
  18. Crash

    JohnO Guest

    '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.
    JohnO, Aug 3, 2005
    #18
  19. In article <m0He.5446$>,
    Crash <> 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
    Spam Blackhole, Aug 3, 2005
    #19
  20. Crash

    shannon Guest

    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
    shannon, Aug 3, 2005
    #20
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