Monday, February 05, 2007

Mainframe futures… (part 2)

Last week I was considering issues that CIOs and others might be concerned with for 2007. I talked about having to do more with less (less space, money, and fewer people), High Availability, licensing issues, and Open Source software. This week I will extend that list with some more things worth thinking about.

SOA (Service-Oriented Architecture) has definitely been the acronym of choice for most vendor presentations during 2006 and it is likely to continue throughout 2007. The simple idea behind it makes perfect sense in all management presentations. If I can summarize: mainframes contain all the best applications and most important data, and users like to work from anywhere using a browser. SOA is the acronym that puts the two together. Again, from a high-level view, it seems sensible and straightforward to chop up your CICS applications into business-related units and give users access to these units of work. The actual mechanics of doing this is much harder. Even so, CICS is now a consumer as well as a provider of Web services, which makes connecting the parts of the new business-based application easier. There are many companies whose main business seems to be in making CICS applications available as Web services. These include Attachmate, Attunity, IONA, Jacada, NetManage, and Seagull (now part of Rocket Software), as well as IBM.

Virtualization is something I talked about in a blog a couple of weeks ago. The importance of virtualization is not only the fact that it gives you a way to maximize the use of devices by applications, but it also allows more devices than you actually have to appear to be available to the virtualized machines. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it gives you a way to control the way the hardware is used. You can monitor and manage how the applications use the physical hardware you have. And here’s the third advantage, The IBM Virtualization Engine allows you to manage across platforms. It’s possible to link with other virtualization software like VMware’s ESX Server, Microsoft’s Virtual PC, and XenSource’s XenEnterprise. Users can then manage a multiplatform virtualized enterprise.

Another area that will take up as much time in 2007 as it did in 2006 is compliance. It is likely that most sites will not receive any more money for this extra work and will therefore be looking for some kind of automation software to ensure that they comply with the regulations. Companies that operate on more than one continent will have the added burden of finding themselves having to comply with more than one set of regulations.

One other area that CIOs will have at the back of their minds in 2007 is on-demand computing. The idea behind this is for the user to be able to call on extra resources when they are needed. All sites experience demand levels that vary during the course of the day and the course of the year. A way of cutting costs is to not have all the processing power necessary for peak periods available all the time. However, the resources can be called on when required. IBM has a way of pricing so that users should pay only for what they use.

Well, there are some of my thoughts about what is going to be important to in the world of mainframes this coming year. I’d be interested to hear your opinions. You can e-mail me on TrevorE@xephon.com.

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