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Mainframe Clouds

Guess who invented virtualization and when? VMware in the late '90s? Citrix in the very late '80s? Try IBM, which in 1968 shipped the very first hypervisor, which ran on the IBM System/360 Model 67 mainframe. Some of those same engineers who worked on that hypervisor later helped build hypervisors for System p and other high-end IBM servers.

So what about mainframes, now dubbed the System z? It is not well-known, but the System z has long been able to virtualize AIX and Linux workloads. The biggest of the big iron can act as some 2,500 discrete servers.

Even lesser-known is the fact that IBM mainframes can also mimic and virtualize x86 machines and run x86 (i.e., Windows) workloads. This effort was announced earlier this year and is now reaching fruition. It may well be the ultimate green machine. Instead of a warehouse full of 2,000-plus servers, you have a much smaller room with much cheaper and simpler cooling and power doing the exact (well, not exactly exact) same thing.

Does a mainframe running Windows make sense, or it the worst combination of the old and the new? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/06/2011 at 12:47 PM


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