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Built for the cloud

Jack Loo | July 7, 2011
Mainframes are sound investments when done right.

SINGAPORE, 7 JULY 2011-They might be expensive, but mainframes have a place in today's cloud environment, according to Dayton Semerjian, general manager of mainframe customer solutions, CA Technologies. In the following Q & A, he shared in detail what mainframes can offer in IT environments today.

1) Where do mainframes sit in the cloud computing world?

People familiar with mainframes say the mainframe was the original private cloud which was called a "service bureau" providing a shared computing service to many end-users with scalability, security, pay as you go, and on-demand availability. The mainframe provides unrivalled performance-to-cost ratio for companies that need mission critical processes that involve a high volume of transaction and database-oriented workloads. IBM's recent release of the zEnterprise mainframe has been called "a cloud in a box" because it combines traditional mainframe architecture with distributed computing architecture.

The reality is that while cloud computing can significantly benefit an organisation, the experience of the front-end applications need to be linked to the performance and availability of the back-end batch data which may reside on a mainframe.

Many of our clients already have IT infrastructures with mainframes up and running. Our job is to help them optimise their systems to be better, faster and more efficient.

Mainframes also take away barriers to entry for cloud computing because they deliver the best reliability, scalability and security, more so than any other computing platform at this point in time. This is especially true if the data that is processed is highly sensitive in nature - that's why many of the world's largest and most successful financial, retail and government companies rely on mainframe systems. For all these reasons, mainframes are a natural choice to anchor private cloud environments.

We also see mainframe and the cloud as two technologies that can work together. The mainframe provides key attributes required to connect large volumes of data to the cloud, for instance, being well-equipped to provide the provisioning and virtualisation needed in the cloud. Since many of the industry's largest and most critical workloads reside on the mainframe, it will continue to play a major role in the cloud-connected enterprise.

We definitely see a market for mainframes and this is why we developed Mainframe 2.0, CA's revolutionary mainframe management strategy, geared to maximise platform value and performance, dramatically simplify its management, and provide practical innovation to ensure that the mainframe can always be an effective and integral part of evolving IT infrastructures.

2) The mainframe's controlled environment needs an administrator to provision tasks. What happens to this role in a cloud environment?

To leverage the promise of cloud technology, IT will need to carefully customise and provision cloud services - the kind of discipline mainframe administration brings to the table is a must. 


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