$240K on mainframe vs. $840K on competitive

A lesson in economics.... reposted with the permission of Jim Marshall, Captain, U.S. Air Force (ret)


I have seen some requests lately for a positive zLinux experience. I am running zLinux under z/VM today with 2 production applications, 45 Virtual Servers in three LPARs providing Production, User Acceptance Test, Development, and SYSPROG TEST. Each application is isolated within a number of V-Lans protected by "Defense in Depth". Users come through the Corporate Firewall and then must pass through the first Firewall running in a Virtual Machine in z/VM. From there they start the process to get access to the application. Throw in a Web Server, Websphere Application Server, DB2, and a product for user sign-on and it all runs pretty well. The z900 was in place and we had an IFL to contribute. All zLinux DASD is running within z/VM mini-disks.

I just returned from an IT Financial conference where I contrasted the costs between running the 45 servers on Intel versus the z/900. I took very conservative costs for the Intel machines ($2K per server), Switches ($10K), and Firewall’s ($10K) and all with no support (this $0). On the Intel side I had Linux for $0 and on the zSeries, I bought SuSe Linux, Novell e-Maintenance, and IBM 24/7 "Support". The Middleware software was from IBM and it is licensed per processor. This is true of most all Distributed products including Oracle. Using Oracle in this would driven the numbers sky high for it is $40K per processor. Thus on the IFL it is $40K and on Intel it would be $200K and that premised 1-engine Intel machines. So I used the DB2 solution for the comparison. In the end the z-Solution was about $240K and the Intel solution was $840K.

As an aside, remember I kept the Intel side of the costs very, very low as possible and the zSeries side I bought Linux with full 24/7 Support. Thus my gut says the number in the Intel side is closer to about $1M+ if one factors in support, increasing the speed of the connections for Switches and Firewalls plus including support for their software and upgrades. The beauty of z/VM is getting all the V-Lans, V-Routers, and V-Firewalls you want for nothing and then all that "V-Cabling" running at memory speeds and also Hypersockets for LPAR connections.

It is my conclusions there are a number of reasons why one does not hear many stories about it. One story is those who do it quite well do not want to reveal the competitive advantage they have. Another, is the company is ashamed to admit they get benefit out of the mainframe when there is such a bias against the mainframe. I know of other places who admit the facts, but IT management wants no part of it; this is not what the trade press and their background says is so. Then in most places, Windows and Linux would be done by the Distributed or Network side of IT and not the mainframers; so why give up turf. Besides more and more servers to manage increases the size of management and their paychecks. Lastly why would those who have Windows machines (MSCE) and Cisco hardware (CISCO certified) turn things over to mainframe systems type to replace them. They will fight to the death to hang onto all their turf.

Another argument is z/VM is so tough. Back in the late 1980s I was forced over into VM (Dark Side for an MVS Bigot) of IBM systems and mastered the work much, much less than a year where MVS takes years to be able to do most all of it. IBM has a free 4 day z/VM and SuSe Linux school which I sent my z/OS Bigots and they came back able to install, implement and get things running. Bringing up a z/VM system only to run zLinux is by far easier than have many, many VM users using CMS, etc. There are enough zLinux Cookbooks to get things up and running quite quickly.

I am not sure what the future will be but with an upgrade to a z9BC my one IFL goes from 238 MIPS to 480 MIPS and my software charges stay exactly the same as they are today. A very interesting situation. The strategy is to run what makes sense over on the zSeries and there is no way I would want to take over 400+ Windows Servers. Once I get a processor license for a piece of software I can bring up many of them virtually with no additional charges. Oh yes, the z/900 IFL is not even breathing hard yet.

Jim Marshall

by Timothy Sipples June 27, 2006
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Still the most reliable

Here is a cut and paste from the 5-minute briefing from dbta.com (12th June issue):

Mainframe is Still the Gold Standard in Server Reliability

Popular server platforms may be duking it out for the lead in reliability, but none has even gotten close to the mainframe. In a recent industry report, Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio is quoted as saying that in terms of power, performance and reliability, only the high-end Unix systems come close to mainframe performance but "even that is debatable."

I have no idea what "duking it out" means, but I understand the rest - still the best - yeehah!

by pwarmstrong June 24, 2006
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We don't have that

This is a supposedly true story between a customer and a vendor's help desk:

Hello, we would like to open a PMR for a problem with z/OS

What is z/OS?

It is the operating system for our mainframe

We don’t have an operating system of that name. Is it Unix, Windows, LINUX?

Please do a search on zed forward slash oh ess

Oh look, we do have it – please wait ….

Classic, but a sad display of missing fundamental education in (primary) schools in my opinion!

by pwarmstrong June 16, 2006
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by Timothy Sipples June 10, 2006 in People
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