“Some call it a software mainframe others call it cloud, it depends on when you were born,”
I have heard a number of VMware’s executives use the term “software mainframe” when describing the new VMware Cloud OS, vSphere. And as Steve indicated in his quote, it’s all about finding a term that resonates with the generation of your audience.
Today I joined in a virtualization discussion between the IT management teams of two Fortune 500 companies. One of the more timely items that was discussed (with regards to the above article) was the implementing of an internal cloud. One of the executives described it as a “change-request-less data center” where the business client is abstracted from the technology and given a transparent view of their own utilization within the data center. Then, an executive from the other company nodded and said “getting back to a mainframe, a software mainframe”.
They were discussing their interpretations of what it meant for their business to have an internal cloud within their data center infrastructure. And the reality is that it is starting to look more like an easily expandable, multi-vendor, distributed/modular mainframe enabled by software.
I found it interesting that the key aspect that defined an internal or enterprise cloud for these executives was the fact that the transparency of utilization was there (just like for an internet cloud and just like on the mainframe), but that the chargeback for the cost of that utilization may not be there. Most enterprises don’t have the internal financial systems set up to do chargeback of computing resources. And for an enterprise to change their internal financial system is a non-trivial task.
However, levering virtualization technology to build an internal cloud that has the ability to track and report on utilization (even if the cost is null) puts the enterprise into a very powerful position:
- Quicker servicing of their business customers needs
- a simplified infrastructure which reduces operational expenses via automation and standardized IT offerings
- the ability to run the existing computing jobs of the business with little or no modifications
- a self service model which helps reduce operational costs even more
- transparency to the business clients to help them understand how much of the IT infrastructure they are using and socially drive them to use it more consciously
- an environment in which the technology can be managed at any time because it is abstracted from the business users
- and the ability to change their internal financial system in the future without major upgrades to their data center or infrastrcuture.
The software mainframe. The enterprise cloud.