Monday, 10 December 2007

IBM and Sun are very cosy!

It’s like young love – all sharing and caring, and long endearing looks. Yes, IBM and Sun Microsystems, who used to take every opportunity to denigrate each other’s products, it seems are now the best of friends – or even closer than that. Before I sink into a morass of poetic drivel and you find yourselves reaching for the vomit bags, I better explain.
It all started with OpenSolaris running on mainframes, and continued with Sun getting further into the mainframe tape business. Where will it end?

IBM announced back in August that it would now support Sun’s Solaris operating system, but it used the recent Gartner Data Center Conference to demonstrate it. z/VM, that old workhorse for making just about anything appear to happen on a mainframe has, not unsurprisingly, been used by IBM to make Solaris run on IBM hardware.

It’s fairly clear what Sun get out of the deal. They are very keen on virtualization (IBM and VM went through this phase back in the 1960s – and used it as the basis for PR/SM some years later). Sun’s ongoing xVM initiative provides a way to control lots of different bits of kit that a potential customer might have installed. 2007 was the year when data centres went green and one way of achieving a move in that direction was virtualization. Virtualization – and I realise you’re all thinking grandmother, eggs, suck, and teach at this point – reduces the need for hardware boxes to be installed because images of that hardware can appear to exist on other hardware. That hardware can now run multiple images and a whole lot of hardware can be cleared out of the machine room. And a whole lot of hardware that would probably have been bought, doesn’t need to be. So lots of savings and lots of reduction in carbon footprints. So, with this deal, one of the boxes that Sun can link to and help manage is an IBM mainframe.

Sun’s xVM Ops Center is described as a highly scalable data centre automation tool for managing heterogeneous environments. Again, according to Sun, it can be used for discovery, monitoring, operating systems provisioning, comprehensive updates, patch management, firmware upgrades and hardware management.

I’m not so clear what IBM gets from the deal. Perhaps a way to prevent low use mainframe users – the VM/VSE crowd – from dropping their mainframe and using Linux servers instead.

A company called Sine Nomine Associates were responsible for porting the code to z/VM.

Sun has been selling mainframe storage since 2005 when it acquired Storagetek. Sun has just announced a performance enhancement to its StorageTek VSM (Virtual Storage Manager) 5, which they claim adds 53 percent more throughput from the initial VSM 5 release in mid-2006. The VSM 5 architecture uses the StorageTek SL8500 tape library and StorageTek T-series tape drives in its operation to optimize tape application performance. Since the middle of last year when Jonathan Schwartz became president/CEO, Sun has realized just how much money it make from the mainframe world and has been directing its attention in that direction.

I expect Sun and IBM will be meeting each other’s parents soon, and who knows what could happen after that!!

On a different subject, now is the time for all mainframers to complete the survey at This will ensure that this year’s mainframe user survey in the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook 2008 has the most accurate information about mainframe use. You get a free copy of the survey results.

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