If it wasn’t for the self-service requirement, one could arguably make a case for the mainframe being one of the first instances of a private cloud. IBM looks to be taking the argument further by starting to wrap cloud computing frameworks such as OpenStack and Bluemix around the mainframe.
In addition to making these services available on the IBM z13 mainframe series unveiled earlier this year, IBM is making it easier for mainframe sites to invoke public cloud services.
Michael Desens, vice president and business line executive for z Systems at IBM, says collectively, IBM is trying to make it easier for IT organizations to bi-directionally invoke mainframe and cloud computing services via a common framework. With this solution, the mainframe essentially becomes an extension of a self-service cloud.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the mainframe is going away, though. Most transactions are still processed on a mainframe, a fact that is only being reinforced by the rise of mobile payment systems that inevitably link back to mainframe transaction processing systems. In fact, that’s one of the primary reasons why IBM has also altered memory pricing on the mainframe to make processing those transactions more affordable.
But as cloud computing continues to evolve, the mainframes that provide those services might disappear behind a raft of distributed computing services that are accessed via the cloud. As that process occurs, the mainframe in one way becomes more accessible, while it also becomes all but invisible.