Who says dinosaurs can’t reduce costs and improve speed of delivery in the cloud?

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Hi folks. After getting positive feedback from you to my earlier post, I am delighted to continue sharing my thoughts on this topic.

One of the key benefits of cloud that I identified earlier was cost savings. Another key and related benefit is improved speed of IT delivery.

Let me elaborate here on how both of these benefits can be achieved using a mainframe. As you might have heard, consolidation, virtualization, standardization, and automation are the key steps for building a cloud. A study by IBM showed the benefits at the various stages of this progression:

The initial benefit is obtained when virtualizing the environment. The more workloads you can consolidate on a given platform, the more you can reduce labor costs.  Hence, larger, more scalable systems like the IBM System z (also known as mainframe) are ideal virtualization and consolidation platforms for implementing private clouds. A single administrator can support a lot more virtual machines on the mainframe through IBM z/VM than any other platform. One such example is Nationwide Insurance, which achieved $15M cost savings over three years by deploying two System z mainframes running Linux to consolidate their data center.  When faced with the need to build a new multimillion-dollar data center to cope with server proliferation, and seeking to streamline application development and daily operations overall, Nationwide made a strategic decision to move to a flexible, virtualized IT environment.

The next area that I want to focus on is automation. With key provisioning technologies that are now available from IBM on the mainframe, we can now install databases in only 12 minutes, install an operating system in 30 to 60 minutes, and design and deploy business applications in days or weeks instead of months. Users can request virtual machines online through self-service portals without having to contact anyone, and the approval process is also streamlined.  The benefits of System z further stand out when a customer can provision very large images (~300GB) several times in a matter of a few hours, which would otherwise take days on other platforms.  At Nationwide, the new environment made the development of new applications far less risky through the rapid, low-cost, and efficient provisioning of server capacity. This way enabled Nationwide developers to try new ideas that would otherwise not have been attempted, fostering innovation.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota is another example of Cloud on System z.  IBM helped them consolidate 140 HP Intel-architecture servers to a single IBM System z with six Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines.  The key outcomes of the project to them were:

  • 30-50% projected cost savings over five years compared with a distributed Intel-based environment
  • 99% reduction in the time it takes to provision new servers
  • 97% reduction in the time it takes to perform a full disaster recovery

To conclude, the superior ”cloud” capabilities inherent in the mainframe provide increased levels of efficiency resulting in dramatic cost savings and speed of delivery. In my next post, I will continue to share with you other capabilities of the IBM mainframe that are also valuable in building your cloud environment. More information on the benefits of running your cloud on System z can be found here:

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