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Mainframes in Modern Data Centers

Mainframes continue to be the data hub of enterprises for the last 50 +years. Overthese years, the industry has seen a number of changes in computing platforms, business models and technological advancements. Modern data centers have evolved largely and are now undergoing a transformation. Organisations are realising the immediate requirement to modernise their data centers to better handle tomorrow’s increasing load, technological advancements and processing requirements. Mainframes all these years continue to retain its key role in data centers. Mainframes are now unavoidable in modern data centers. The new generation mainframe systems can now bridge the gap between legacy mainframe infrastructure and modern mainframes. They are equipped with the latest technologies like virtualisation, advanced security and high automation. Mainframes are now actively used to run legacy as well as new generation applications simultaneously. Their role in modern data center continues to be strong.

The Mainframe platform has undergone several turnkey changes in architecture and technology over these years. The Mainframe Reliability, Availability and Serviceability features enable organizations to heavily depend on Mainframes for critical data center operations. More than 70 % of the organizational business data is now stored in Mainframes. A 2011 annual Mainframe survey by BMC software proves the increasing relevance of Mainframe in modern data centers. At a time when a number of business enterprises are thinking about the modern data center requirements, let us also have a look at what makes Mainframes an unavoidable entity in modern data centers.

A single mainframe can provide the computing capacity of over 2000 distributed servers. Making use of effective virtualisation, energy efficiency a mainframe brings into the modern data center becomes enormous. With lower power to run and reduced heat emission, mainframes directly lower the HVAC cost largely. As an efficient tool for server consolidation and virtualisation, Mainframes brings in drastic space savings in the modern data centers.

Key factors making Mainframes apt for data center management

Energy Efficiency
Efficient Energy management is a key concern for global enterprises. Mainframes are more energy efficient than the distributed systems. A distributed system environment requires power supply for each individual systems, consuming a large amount of energy. Compared to an equivalently configured x86 distributed computing environment, Mainframes use about 12 % of energy only. Power and cooling requirements for modern Mainframes are more efficient than distributed systems. Mainframe brings in more work with less energy for data centers.

Reduced server sprawl
In many organizational data centers, there were a great number of underutilized servers creating a server sprawl. The underutilized servers increase the cost, complexity and maintenance efforts of companies. Effective virtualization and consolidation of servers with Mainframes help reduce the number of underutilized servers in data centers thereby reducing the server sprawl.

Less Floor space
Mainframe consumes less floor space in data centers compared to large number of x 86 servers in a distributed system environment. Additional capacity demands in distributed system environment require addition of new systems. Meanwhile, in Mainframe based data centers the scalability of Mainframes help to meet the additional capacity demands without purchasing new infrastructure. This helps reduce the floor space largely. In addition, new Mainframe systems like z196 and z114 are capable to house 250 Linux servers in a box having the size of a closet. Mainframe brings in more processing power in relatively smaller footprints compared to distributed system environment.

Distributed system environments have more number of access points and storage systems mostly with no specific centralized point of control thereby increasing chance of security flaws. Organizations’ IT departments spend more money and time to safe guard the security access points in these systems. In addition, the purchase cost for security licenses in these systems are creating overheads for IT departments. Compared to distributed systems, Mainframes possess efficient security architecture with centralised control. These security features makes Mainframes apt for critical data processing jobs in banking, credit card transactions, insurance companies etc for the last 50 +years. Integrated security features in Mainframe can significantly reduce costs related to security software licensing and security management personnel.

Manageability is one of the core features that affect the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in an organizational data center. Modern Mainframes are less complex and more manageable than the old Mainframe architectures. As organizations adopt new business models like SOA, the service interactions, networking and storage functions etc have to be carefully supervised and controlled. IBM has offered many products that are apt for effectively tracking mainframe operations. IBM’s Tivoli Product offerings are examples for this.

Developments and technological advancements in Mainframe world have changed the traditional thinking about Mainframes. Mainframes in modern data centers possess additional features like expanded service management capabilities, cross platform integration facilities etc. data centers are being modernised, Mainframe technology is also advancing in a fast pace. Latest technologies are being converged into this single box. Organisations cannot avoid utilising this advantage. Future seems to be brighter as mainframe’s acceptance is increasing day by day and IBM’s serious effort on mainframe improvement continues. With all these developments, no doubt, Mainframes are going to rule the business world once again.

About Maintec Technologies

Maintec provides Mainframe Remote System Software Support, Mainframe Remote Operations Support and Mainframe Mid-Range services that caters to both AIX and iSeries (AS/400) environments. At the heart of the offering Maintec focus on providing best-in-class Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM), Remote Data Center Management and Application Development and Maintenance services on IBM Mainframe Platforms.
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