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CA Debuts 'Mainframe 2.0' for Big Iron

By Richard Adhikari (Send Email)
Posted Nov 20, 2008


At a time when mainframe sales are going strong, CA announced Mainframe 2.0, an initiative to simplify its tools for managing IBM's mainframe z/OS operating system.

Sales of mainframes are up, but the number of skilled administrators and managers is down. CA angles to be part of the solution

Mainframe 2.0 combines enhancements to CA's mainframe management solutions with new turnkey management services.

"A lot of sites have doubled and quadrupled mainframe workloads, but staffing has gone down, and it was conventional wisdom in the last 10 years not to invest in mainframe skills. Now customers are feeling the burden," Vince Re, a senior vice president at CA, told InternetNews.com.

CA announced Mainframe 2.0 Wednesday at CA World 2008, its annual user conference, being held this week in Las Vegas.

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Under Mainframe 2.0, CA will create a uniform browser-based look and feel across all its solutions, automate processes and provide data to insulate IT staff from the complexities of the z/OS operating system, and streamline its solutions so they can be deployed by minimally skilled IT staff.

It will also deliver software solutions electronically. The delivery will be built on standard z/OS tools such as SMP/E so customers do not have to reconstitute their tape volumes after downloading new solutions.

CA will also provide turnkey services customers can use to address gaps in internal staffing skills or control staffing costs. It calls this approach out-tasking.

Out-tasking lets enterprises lease hardware, software and skilled staff from CA. "When a customer buys hardware and software, he's not after the technology, he's really after the outcome," CA's Re said.

"They don't care about what's getting them the results, they just want the results, so we're letting them buy the outcome."

Keeping Things Simple

That is going to be important as mainframe sales keep growing. "IBM's revenue from mainframe sales as reported for Q3 was up 25 percent year over year and we were up 32 percent in Q2 year over year, and we're the only platform running a double digit growth in the industry," Karl Freund, IBM's vice president of marketing and strategy for System z, told InternetNews.com.

"We've been simplifying our mainframe tools for years, and we're very pleased to see CA doing that as well," Freund added.

The growth in mainframe sales is being driven by companies looking to take advantage of data center virtualization and consolidation.

Mainframes offer a very high degree of consolidation. "You can virtualize and consolidate literally hundreds of Intel-based applications or a smaller number of Unix-based applications onto a single mainframe, saving tons of money and facilities costs," analyst Charles King of Pund-IT Research told InternetNews.com.

"As people virtualize and consolidate to get more energy efficiency, people efficiency, space efficiency, they increasingly look to larger platforms," IBM's Freund said. "If you can do a good job of virtualizing on a two- or four-socket machine you can do a good job on an eight-socket machine."

That could have led to IBM's purchase of Transitive, a privately held company in Los Gatos, Calif., that specializes in cross-platform technologies, including virtualization. The purchase was announced on Tuesday. IBM did not disclose the purchase price.

"The technology will enable customers to consolidate their Linux-based applications onto the IBM systems that make the most sense for their business needs," IBM said in a statement. IBM's PowerVMTM software, designed to help customers consolidate their x86 Linux workloads onto IBM systems, currently includes Transitive technology.

Pund-IT's King said the purchase might prove to be a competitive advantage for IBM "Transitive worked with a lot of other vendors, including Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), to provide virtualization technology that would allow competitors' workloads, including IBM's, to be ported over to their platforms," he explained.

"There's an opportunity for IBM to use Transitive to lure away competitors' customers," he added.

Remarks by IBM's Freund seem to bear King out. "When customers using Solaris or HP/UX migrate to Linux we offer them phenomenal cost savings, and that's why our Linux platform sales are growing more than 40 percent year over year every quarter," Freund said.

This article was originally published on InternetNews.com.

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