Lower TCO With a Mainframe Cloud

Organizations are turning to cloud computing to improve their IT responsiveness and to reduce costs. And for enterprise workloads, which require highly reliable and secure platforms to meet demanding service levels, many companies are building private clouds using a mainframe.

A cloud built on a mainframe has the following key advantages:

  • Performance: Mainframes can host more virtual machines in a single footprint than any other platform. With its superior management capabilities, a mainframe enables resources to be effectively shared among workloads, achieving the highest possible utilization of the platform, according to the quantitative analysis “Comparing Virtualization Alternatives—What’s Best for Your Business?
  • Reliability: Mainframes are designed to operate with the highest levels of reliability and availability, the analysis found.
  • Security: The mainframe has achieved one of the highest marks for security in the industry, according to “Secure The Enterprise With Confidence Using A Mainframe Infrastructure.”
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO): A mainframe cloud can cost less, overall, than a cloud built on other competing platforms.

A recent IBM study found that the three-year TCO for a System z mainframe cloud can be 75 percent less than a third-party provider’s public cloud and as much as 49 percent less than an x86-based private cloud. In this paper, we’ll take a closer look at this TCO study.

But first, let’s talk about how to quickly build a robust, secure cloud foundation on System z.

Building a System z Mainframe Cloud

The two basic requirements for building a cloud are an efficient virtualization platform that is secure and scalable and cloud management that provides capabilities like self-service, automated provisioning, monitoring and backup.

z/VM with Linux on System z provides a highly efficient virtualization platform. This virtualization platform has a set of key technical differentiators—e.g., large-scale virtualization architecture, lower headroom requirements when pooling a large number of varying workloads, the ability to run different priority workloads side by side without degradation to the higher priority workloads and the ability to support workloads like databases that drive high I/O.

With respect to cloud management, it is important to have an open-standards based approach. OpenStack platforms provide an open, industry standard interface to cloud infrastructure. IBM’s SmartCloud Orchestrator is built on OpenStack and provides this standards-based interface to manage a System z cloud. SmartCloud Orchestrator provides a self-service interface for users, virtual images and patterns for rapid provisioning, drag-and-drop tooling and orchestration capabilities. In addition to the capabilities that SmartCloud Orchestrator provides, the Cloud Management Suite for System z also includes components for monitoring and backup/recovery.

System z brings together the virtualization components as well as the cloud management components into a new pre-integrated offering, the IBM Enterprise Cloud System. The Enterprise Cloud System is available with the choice of zEnterprise EC12 (zEC12) or zEnterprise BC12 (zBC12) systems; IBM System Storage; IBM virtualization; and open-standard-based cloud management software products that are integrated into a single, highly secure and available system for hosting enterprise-Linux-based cloud deployments.

Dr. Fehmina Merchant is a senior consulting engineer with the IBM Competitive Project Office. She leads technical research on cloud management technologies with a focus on economics of cloud computing.

John J. Thomas is an STSM in the IBM Strategy and Technology division. He leads technical research on IBM workload-optimized systems and has received multiple IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards.

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