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License z/OS Software-as-a-Service and Move Individual IBM Z Workloads to Private, Public or Hybrid Clouds

The acronym “SaaS” first appeared in 2001 as a revolutionary concept. Now, Gartner predicts the SaaS market will reach $116B in 2020. As SaaS concepts are brought to the mainframe, what will the market look like in another 20 years? What if you could dynamically and automatically redirect individual mainframe workloads to the cloud based on business requirements, capacity needs and cloud suitability?

This is a significant challenge for the future. However, the benefits could create new opportunities for users, service providers, mainframe ISVs and IBM. I believe we can start by redirecting batch and less data intensive applications—like compilers— to the cloud.

The Foundations of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing dates back to the introduction of the mainframe. During the 1950s and ’60s, the idea of accessing shared computing facilities over secure networks was widely adopted for research and educational applications.

What we now know as cloud computing was commercially popularized about 15 years ago by Amazon, starting with Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and growing into a range of cloud services under Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Today, cloud-hosted web services are ubiquitous, with competitive offerings available from a variety of vendors. Businesses have immediate access to various virtualized computing services, from Infrastructure as a Service (to access components traditionally present in an on-premise data center, including servers, storage and networking hardware) to Platform as a Service (which adds OS and application development environments) and Software as a Service (for delivery of full-function applications).

These virtualized computing services revolutionized the infrastructure of business, delivering flexible pricing models, the ability to scale on demand and accelerated time to market.

A Market Opportunity?

Whereas we are fully immersed in the revolution of the cloud, the benefits of cloud computing have been limited to distributed computing and have eluded mainframe environments and

applications. This gap in the market—the ability to dynamically use cloud resources to execute z/OS* workloads—presents a tremendous opportunity in mainframe computing.

The mainframe remains the most secure, reliable and available platform in the market today, trusted to run the most sensitive, mission-critical and regulated workloads and data in the world. Yet mainframe users continue to fight the perception that the mainframe is expensive, inflexible, outdated and destined for extinction.

Without some of the analogous cloud technologies of the distributed world, mainframe leaders are faced with the same old choices for cost reduction and operational efficiencies. Some hire employees or consultants to manually move data and/or workloads off the mainframe, migrate to a managed service, outsource, or attempt to re-platform applications. This creates substantial challenges in time, cost and risk to complete and if completed, prove challenging to retain or regain control of systems, data, workloads and costs, not to mention the comparative compromises to security and availability.

Cloud Benefits on IBM Z

Imagine the benefits of cloud computing realized on IBM Z: similar pricing flexibility, scalability on demand and accelerated time to market. These capabilities would allow mainframe users to maintain their mission-critical IBM Z* workloads on their internal mainframes as appropriate for their business, but with new flexibility to dynamically select when, where and how to automatically and securely move individual IBM Z workloads to private, public or hybrid clouds.

While today an entire LPAR, CPU or data center can move to the cloud, I believe a new Z Workload as a Service (ZWaaS) capability would be key in the mainframe world, with an environment as a Software Defined Mainframe (SDMF). In this model, a granular unit of mainframe workload would be selected, based upon a policy or rule set, and be dynamically dispatched from a known and configured source mainframe for execution in an environment hosted by a service provider. Depending upon the application and the unit of work, some or all of the environment and data required for program execution would be dispatched along with the unit of work, and the results returned to the source environment.

For large mainframe users, the opportunity to easily shift workloads around to various clouds to achieve lower costs, fulfill excess capacity needs, and flexibly test and deploy new applications is key.

For smaller mainframe users, envision mainframe applications executing in the cloud, still controlled by the user but managed by a service provider—just like businesses use AWS or other cloud providers today to remove infrastructure in distributed environments.

A Revolution in the Making

ZWaaS would present a compelling opportunity for service providers to bring a variety of clouds to market, and for ISVs to create new tools to manage and optimize mainframe environments.

Given today’s high-volume, transaction-based world, with these cloud and other innovations, we believe the mainframe will continue to serve as the most secure, reliable and available platform in the industry. It’s time for the concepts of cloud computing in the distributed world to come full circle, back to where they originated so many years ago—and revolutionize the mainframe industry.

Jeanne Glass
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    UDAY PRASAD Reply

    ZWaaS is an interesting concept. Would like to delve deeper into it to understand the architecture of the proposed system.
    However, I always propounded the thought that IBM mainframe has been using the cloud concept ever since it was conceived. The current days world has just added fancy looking sugar coated names to this concept and introduced it to the world on the “open systems”, other than Mainframe environment.. Since a vast majority of common people do not know how mainframe works and are more akin to applications working on a single user system , they recognize this concept of cloud computing as a new innovative discovery…..

    Think about it, IAAS is a cloud-based services, pay-as-you-go for services such as storage, networking, and virtualization…..So is the case if you have your infra loaded on the various lPARS on the MAINFRAMEs and you pay as your usage ….
    More and more shops are renting the space in the mainframe areas on the basis of their requirement and running their business based on this concept. Aren’t they similar to the way they run it on the open systems?

    Then we have PaaS – which provides the platform through hardware and software tools available over the internet. IBM mainframe has been giving this since last 6 or 7 decades. The users have the access to DASD, TAPES, over the internet /and modem connectivity. They run their applications using so many software aids and tools like TSO/ISPF. DB2I, QMF,CICS TS, IMS DB DC etc. So what is the difference?

    Similarly, SaaS which provides software that’s available via a third-party over the internet is exactly what Mainframes has been providing to its multiple users all over the world with a unique concept of running your own batch or online softwares within the independent address space. As a matter of fact since multiple users can work concurrently using their own address space in the virtual memory itself is a unique case of managing softwares from remote, like the AWS or any other cloud providers do it.

    Therefore ZWAAS = Sum total of Platform as a service : Infra as a service and software as a service —-> which is already present since the first program was punched in on MVS operating system….Its just the new name that is getting coined on the old drink……..

    Note- this is completely my own views , with no intended pun and with due respect to IBM and the rest of the wolrd……..Mainframes are the most amazing machines invented by mankind….

    Cap Uday Prasad
    Mainframe Evangelist
    capuday.zos@gmail.com

  2. Avatar
    Allan Winston Reply

    Wouldl IBM be fighting this concept as it would reduce their software licensing revenue? In an analogy , I would hearken back to the lawsuits back around 1991 when CA and EDS had billion dollar lawsuits against each other due to EDS using the concept of warehousing software licenses.

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