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back to article Dell guns for IBM mainframes with Clerity gobble

Dell is hungry for more server revenues while building out a portfolio of software at the same time - and the acquisition of mainframe application rehosting company Clerity Solutions hits both targets with the same bullet. The PC and server maker has been in an acquisitive mood lately, snapping up security software and appliance …

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Product Niche

I wonder if they have anything like UniKix but for FORTRAN instead of COBOL?

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Beware of I/O workloads

"...Servers using x86 processors have only gotten that much more power, and Linux and Windows have both matured as operating systems, too...."

Yes, it is totally viable to replace Mainframes with x86, as the x86 cpu are typically several times more powerful and faster than the latest IBM Mainframe z196 cpu. If we emulate Mainframes on x86 using "TurboHercules", the x86 server should give decent performance. Now we are talking about cpu performance. However, if the Mainframe is doing heavy I/O work loads, then it is not obvious that you can replace the Mainframe with x86, because the Mainframes have superior I/O compared to x86 servers.

Cpu workloads = ok to replace Mainframe with x86.

I/O workloads = not ok to replace.

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tpm
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Beware of I/O workloads

Agreed. But there are plenty of mainframes out there with modest MIPS and I/O, and that is what these tools are always aimed at.

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Re: Beware of I/O workloads

Yes, the mainframe isn't about pure CPU. It is difficult to compare z196 to Nehalem EX because the z uses assist processor to keep the CP (CPU) running at 100% whereas x86 has more cores/threads but it a very rare workload which actually allows you to run an x86 workload at anything even close to 100%, most of those cores are running at under 20% on the average virtualized x86 server. You run out of memory or network I/O before you can tap the CPU in x86.

Regardless, as you mention, the reason people use mainframes is for I/O. The mainframe is a transaction (I/O) monster. That is why it is commonly used for transaction heavy workloads at banks, insurance companies, airlines, etc. A z196 has 288GB/second bandwidth, which is many, many times the memory bandwidth of a top of the line 8 core "TurboHercules" CPU or any other x86 CPU.

The other reason people use mainframe is because of the RAS and security features. You can possibly get close to the same uptime levels in a scaled-out x86 environment with multiple redundant writes to different nodes and some sort of consistency technology (for instance, a Hadoop environment), but nothing touches System z's EAL5 security.

This might be interesting to a few mainframe users that are not utilizing the I/O advantages and are not as concerned with the RAS and security features, but I think most of the those people moved off of mainframe many years ago.

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Re: Beware of I/O workloads

True, there are some mainframe users out there that are not using the advantages of the z (I/O, RAS, security, centralization, etc), but these migration tools have been around for decades. I doubt there is a mainframe user out there that is not aware of the migration kits. If someone has a small MIPS mainframe (a couple of mission critical COBOL applications usually), there is probably some reason they are not able to take advantage of these tools over the past 20 years and have performed PoCs in the past. Also, if you are getting off of the mainframe, I doubt anyone wants to put those mission critical applications on Dell. They would migrate to IBM or HP x86... or Sun... or Cisco... not Dell. They are going from best to worst in RAS, HMC tools, and build quality.

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