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back to article They shoot mainframes, don't they?

What does two and two make? The answer: a myth. It’s a joke, but not a very funny one, for IBM’s System z team: when they talk to customers who refuse to consider a move to a mainframe environment, two and two is their objection: "it will take me two years to do it, and I’m going to spend two million dollars in the struggle," …

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Nobody has ever hacked the mainframe?

I seem to remember a lot of hacking of mainframes in the olden days. But I agree, the business case for mainframes is pretty good.

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I would like to know

where the references to back this claim up are!

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Oops.

I was questioning the claim that the mainframe was never hacked, not the comment. Should have made myself more clear!

The problem is that the term 'mainframe' makes does not actually describe either a computer or an operating system.

The IBM 9370 running AIX/370 that sat under a desk at one of my previous jobs was a (baby) 'mainframe'. The 3090s running VM/CMS and RETAIN (an OS in itself) that I used when in IBM were 'mainframes'. The Amdahl 5890E running UTS and AT&T RDS UNIX was a 'mainframe'. The Honeywell 6180 running MULTICS was a 'mainframes'. LEO was a 'mainframe'. The IBM 370/168 running MTS I used at University was a 'mainframe'. The ICL 1904 and 2904 running George that many Universities had were 'mainframes'. The DEC Systems 10 and 20 running TOPS were 'mainframes'. I could dig around and find a lot more 'mainframe' systems.

Now. Were none of these hacked? I can tell you for a fact that I hacked an Amdahl running R&D UNIX as part of my job more than once, and I must admit to breaking into accounts on MTS on the 370/168 while at University to get more computing budget to play the original Adventure (come on, it was 30 years ago. There must be a statute of limitations on this, surely!).

This article probably means an IBM mainframe running z/OS or its ancestors, probably using RACF. Even this, I'm sure, can not claim to never have been hacked! I have just found this http://www.os390-mvs.freesurf.fr/tenflaws.htm, in which item 9 clearly states that the author gained key 0 protection from a non supervisor account on MVS. Sounds like hacking to me.

I will freely admit that current mainframes running z/OS are incredibility secure, but I ask again. Where is the references that state a mainframe has never been hacked!

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Anonymous Coward

Yay for price gouging

That java and linux stuff runs on its own blade. Useful. So let's keep that blade and dump the rest. Or what is the use case left for the bulk of the (mostly cookie-cuttered) hardware if you're not going with the horribly expensive proprietary OS but want, well, linux instead?

Ah sod it, I'm not going to waste my time with rebadged vendor whitepapers.

Yes, there's a point to mainframes. But it's the racket, not the racks, that's putting me off.

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Anonymous Coward

Bad idea

Massive single-company buy-in.

There are going to have to be mind-bogglingly huge savings for me to handcuff myself, my hardware, my OS and my software to one profit-driven company.

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Re Bad idea

You prefer buggy software and a ramshackle OS? (And I'm not talking about Linux).

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No one has hacked the gibson?

Seem to recall mainframes being the primary targets of the "wana b3 1337 h4x0r!"

Pls at least focus on the unique management and 100% uptime capabilities mr ibm rep.

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FAIL

This advert was bought to you by...

On top of a sponsored marketing 'news' story, we also have a ludicrous statement:

"No one has ever hacked a mainframe".

That statement goes up there with:

"This system is 100% secure." and "This encryption is totally unbreakable."

Unconfirmable and illogical statement.

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Black Helicopters

reality bytes

Of course the M/F has never been hacked, didn't big blueloo develop an implementation of the DES encryption standard that used a 128 bit key, and then reduced it to 56 bits...... on advice from the NSA??!?!?!?!?!?!?

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Stop

You have got that the wrong way round

"or have a really bad data centre to embark on a plan like this"

What you meant to say was - "If you install a mainframe you'll end up with a really bad data centre because you'll have to overcool the whole building just because of one box whose humidity and temperature ranges are stuck in 1970 meaning that every server you have will be more expensive to run because of that one museum piece in the corner"

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Update your knowledge

Have you even looked at the last few generations of mainframe hardware? About the size of a large refrigerator. Environmentals are not what they were even 15 years ago. Go do some reading before spouting obsolete nonsense.

A mainframe running VM, hosting dozens or hundreds of Linux servers is orders of magnitude less footprint, less electricity, less cooling, less administrative overhead. The system management tools and the reliability of a mainframe have other platforms drooling in envy.

Museum piece? Hardly.

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@Sysprog Steve

This article is quite IBM biased? I have never seen strong Sun or Oracle biased article here, but Ive seen lots of IBM biased. For instance about the "super fast" POWER6 and POWER7. And of course, the IBM Mainframes.

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However, regarding the POWER6: you need four POWER6 at 4.7GHz to match two Intel Nehalem (not -EX) at 2.93GHz in LINPACK.

You need six POWER6 (including p570) servers with 14 POWER6 cpus at 4.7GHz to match one Sun T5440 with 4 Niagara T2 cpus at 1.4GHz - when we talk about SIEBEL v8 benchmarks.

(You need 13 of the IBM CELL cpus at 3.2GHz to match one 1.4GHz T2 when we talk about String Pattern Matching). So, the POWER6 is not maybe the super fast cpu as claimed by IBM.

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Regarding the POWER7. The Niagara T3 holds several world records. The Intel Westmere-EX is ~10% slower than POWER7. Maybe the POWER7 is not that super fast.

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Regarding those "super fast" IBM Mainframes. As I have shown earlier, the IBM Mainframe cpus are quite slow. Any high end x86 cpu is faster. An 8-socket x86 server with Nehalem-EX gives as much as compute power as the biggest z10 Mainframe with 64 cpus.

Recently, IBM has released the "worlds fastest cpu" IBM Z196 running at 5.26GHz, 300MB cache (L1+L2+L3):

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/32414.wss

But, the z196 is only 50% faster than the slow z10 CPU, despite some crazy specs. Which means you need 12 Intel Nehalem-EX to match the biggest z196 IBM Mainframe cpu today.

Now, here is my question: how can IBM claim that you can virtualize 1,000s of x86 servers on a big mainframe? Answer: All x86 idle at 1-2% and the Mainframe is fully loaded. Well, in that case, my laptop can virtualize 10 IBM Mainframes. I just start up ten instances of the Mainframe emulator "TurboHercules" and load the Mainframe OS and idle them. I can emulate a Mainframe on a laptop. Google on "turbohercules".

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Despite all those slow IBM gear, there are lots of strong IBM biased articles here claiming the gear is invincible and "never hacked" . How come? Why not such articles about Oracle? Can we see such Oracle articles too, maybe? A request from the readers here!

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Stop

History....

I am sorry to see that the 20 year old version of; "my IBM AT server is as fast as a Mainframe" is now replaced by "My laptop can run 10 Mainframes". Often used by those who have absolutely no understanding of how Mainframes work.

Please do some homework before stating things like this. Or better, ask any large Mainframe user how much of their mission critical processing still runs on a Mainframe. And then ask them how many servers they run to run the other 50%.... I worked in both environments extensively, so I know what I am talking about.

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@zmarcel

"....I am sorry to see that the 20 year old version of; "my IBM AT server is as fast as a Mainframe" is now replaced by "My laptop can run 10 Mainframes". Often used by those who have absolutely no understanding of how Mainframes work...."

Actually, I am not saying this. I totally agree with your criticism. It is wrong to claim that "I can virtualize 10 IBM mainframes on my laptop" - I do not say that. Just because I can in fact boot 10 mainframes on my laptop, provided all idle, does not justify such a claim. This is wrong. I am glad we both agree that this is a false claim. If I boot 10 idling Mainframes on my laptop does not allow me to say "I have virtualized 10 Mainframes!! Look everyone!!!"

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So let me ask you: when IBM says exactly the same thing, you dont object. Why?

IBM claims that one big Mainframe can virtualize 1.500 of the x86 servers. If you do some research, it turns out that all the x86 servers must idle at 1-2% (and they are old servers), and the Mainframe be loaded to 100%! Now, isn't this a false statement and FUD from IBM??? The Mainframes are not as powerful as IBM claim. That is pure FUD.

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Likewise, IBM claims that one Mainframe can handle 400.000 logged in users. I am willing to bet money, that if I do some research, it turns out that all the users all idle.

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Also, the legendary IBM Mainframe uptime. In one of scandinavian largest IT sites, a government manager was interviewed, he said something like "our mainframe crashed, that is weird. It never happens normally. Last time it happened, was 6 years ago".

Also, IBM is dead scared of the software emulator TurboHercules. An 8-socket Intel Nehalem-EX server gives 3.200 MIPS under software emulation with TurboHercules according to wikipedia. Software emulation is 5-10x slower than native code. Thus, the Intel server should actually give 16.000-32.000 MIPS. The biggest z196 Mainframe which has 20 cpus, gives 50.000 MIPS. Thus, you need 16 Intel Nehalem-EX cpus to outperform the z196 Mainframe.

The purpose of the TurboHercules software emulator, is that IBM customers can fail over to a x86 server when the Mainframe crashes. It is too expensive to buy another Mainframe. If the Mainframe never crashes, why is IBM threatening TurboHercules? There should be no market for TurboHercules, if the things IBM said were true.

And, a Mainframe has never been hacked? Pffft. That sounds like something IBM would claim.

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Is it just me...

or does this article read like an IBM marketing pamphlet?

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I'm really willing to believe...

...that there are great advantages to mainframes. After all, it kind of makes sense that there would be. But strewth that read like an advertisement!

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No, but they shoot mouthpieces

Next time, if there is one, make sure your first statement is "This article is based on a study paid for by vendor X." Some of us don't care if you spout off for IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat, etc. (it keeps us from having to actually visit ibm.com, etc) but when you do, tell us. First. Before we read a line that could only have originated in the marketing department.

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Spin it

Mainframe sounds so old fashioned. Call it a private cloud.

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Alert

Bias?!

After reading these posts, I can't help noticing that many of them have an almost religious undertone. Guys, wake up. Buying IT stuff is a BUSINESS decision. EVERYBODY in the Industry agrees that managing 3000+ distributed servers (virtualized or not) is a nightmare and does not solve any of the arguments that were used to get AWAY from the Mainframe. "Fit for purpose" is all that matters. Some stuff runs better on Mainframes, some better on zLinux, other on Distributed Unix or Windows or Citrix.

But most importantly, it's a BUSINESS decision which many IT folks these days do not seem to be able to make. Due to bias towards anything that does not fit their ideas of what a perfect IT Infrastructure should look like?? Have a look here to see what some Mainframe tools allow you to do.. You'll be surprised (http://bit.ly/mzsbJI)... And yes, I work for a Mainframe ISV as well... ;)

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