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IBM Windows Technology

Windows OS Coming To the Mainframe 148

Posted by timothy
from the your-airplane-fell-into-my-peanut-butter dept.
msmoriarty writes "Following up on its May announcement, IBM has now confirmed that by December 16 it will support Microsoft Windows on zEnterprise via its zBX component."
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Windows OS Coming To the Mainframe

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The botnet is now coming to the mainframe!

  • You poor IBM system admins...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Are you kidding? This is the greatest job security coup of all time! World wide IT departments will have to start hiring around the clock. Think of all that buggy, crashing, virus invected software that will constantly require fixing. This will make all that Y2k hype seem like a walk in the park LOL!!!
      • I wonder how long it takes a modern mainframe to do it's IPL (boot)? I know that your not loading from tape anymore, but still Windows?

        • by bws111 (1216812) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @02:26PM (#37988822)

          Windows does not run on the mainframe (z/Architecture engine). Windows runs on an Intel blade in a blade center connected to the mainframe with some high-speed links and is managed by the mainframe. The mainframe is still running z/OS, and will have the same performance and reliability characteristics it always had.

          • by Fnord666 (889225)

            The mainframe is still running z/OS, and will have the same performance and reliability characteristics it always had.

            Having worked on the mainframe platform for the last 20 years, I can tell you that mainframe reliability isn't what it used to be.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      How about that, Microsoft almost catching up with Linux in yet another category. How long has it been ince Lunux ran on mainframes? Quite a while, one of the ten fastest computers in the world runs on Linux (keep working on it, MS). I keep thinking of BSoDs, do you know how damned long it takes to boot a mainframe? Will they have to restart the mainframe on Patch Tuesday every month? Reboot it when its antivirus needs new definitions, or Adobe updates Flash?

      Run for your lives, indeed!

  • by spacepimp (664856) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:27AM (#37986212) Homepage
    What in the Mainframe market sector is this the answer to?
    • by ELCouz (1338259)
      This looks like a deliberate attempt to gain a small percentage of the general computers market share (yes, servers and mainframes included!)
    • Mainframes are increasingly seeing competition from clusters of commodity machines running Xen or similar - the cluster is often less good, but at ten percent the cost of the mainframe it doesn't have to be to be tempting to a lot of users. This is an attempt to ensure that anything you can do with cluster of Xen machines, you can do with a mainframe (the converse is not true).
      • by morcego (260031)

        I really see this as clusters taking over a niche where there was no real competition. People would use either mainframes or some kind of distributed solution for that, but that was mostly because it was the best alternative. "If all you have is a hammer, you should treat everything as a nail" and all that.

        Of course vendor will fight back, since it will cost them profits. But I simply can't see clusters taking over the real mainframe market.

    • by bws111 (1216812) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:59AM (#37986774)

      Contrary to the impression left by the misleading title, this is NOT Windows running on a mainframe. It is Windows running on a blade in a blade center attached to and managed by the mainframe. Using a Windows (or Linux, or AIX) box to perform analytics on mainframe data is not new. What is new is the methods for getting the data from the mainframe, and the fact that the whole thing is managed by the mainframe. And in the mainframe sector, management is huge.

      • by Relayman (1068986)
        That's the way I read it. It's Windows running on either Intel or AMD. We've had it with the Power Systems (iSeries, AS/400) for years. Other than system management (for a time, it was the only Windows server that could reboot itself when it crashed) the big advantage was disk management. Like a virtual environment, you could add disk at will and the disk performance was considerably higher than a regular Windows server. On Power Systems, each Windows disk drive is striped over all the disk drives which cou
      • by iggymanz (596061)

        also, the connection to the mainframe from the blade (the zbx with x86-64 processors) is 10 gigabit ethernet. Sure, there are all kinds of software to manage and provide special services such as db2 connectivety, but it's really no different than accessing some windows server over a network.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Any that runs windows and wants to move towards VDI without having to buy and maintain a bunch of x86 servers and esx ( or similar ).

    • by pauls2272 (580109)

      The ZBX is designed to replace Racks of X86 servers. The shops that want this either already have a big backend Mainframe - for DB2/ADABAS/IMS with midrange Window/Unix servers or they process everything on the mainframe and FTP down to Windows/Unix boxes (last place I worked FTPed Terrabytes every night down from the mainframe to servers).

      The ZBX has a high speed bus connection between the Mainframe (Z196/Z114). This speeds up the network lag for large MQSeries systems, FTPs, etc. Also the ZBX is manage

      • by Fnord666 (889225)

        The ZBX has a high speed bus connection between the Mainframe (Z196/Z114). This speeds up the network lag for large MQSeries systems, FTPs, etc. Also the ZBX is managed/upgraded by IBM Customer Engineers so the firmware will be IBM supported. They also integrate the ZBX into the Hardware Management Console to have a single point of control. I believe the ZBX can also take advantage of Server Time Protocol so the mainframe can be used as a time source for all the ZBX blade servers.

        It probably also allows the applications to communicate with and share data with the crypto coprocessing facilities available on the z/Enterprise platform.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      What in the Mainframe market sector is this the answer to?

      Lack of knowledge among younger programmers about mainframe programming languages. A client server application can simple be ported to mainframe with the mainframe either playing the roles of the clients and virtualizing or just the server. It allows people to consolidate and migrate Windows server and server applications off the physical hardware.

  • by jbohumil (517473) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:27AM (#37986216)
    Now when work calls me at 3AM because a mainframe job failed I will have to say "Please reboot the mainframe and call me back again if it still fails!" Then I can go back to sleep.
  • Not quite... (Score:4, Informative)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:28AM (#37986228)
    The summary misses something fairly important, which is that Windows isn't running on the z mainframe itself. This allows Windows blades to be inserted into an external chassis (zBX) and managed by a software component called the Unified Resource Manager.
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      It's immensely important. Can you imagine the cost of the CPU cycles at IBM's usual mainframe rates? It amazes me that people still tolerate that kind of billing (and yes, I know that you can pay them a couple of hundred thousand extra to get a CPU that doesn't charge you for certain types of loads ... I just consider that paying for your own lube).
      • Re:Not quite... (Score:5, Informative)

        by the linux geek (799780) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:48AM (#37986544)
        People tolerate it because it works. Mainframes have compelling performance characteristics, especially for virtualization- or I/O-heavy workloads, and most people don't need a full unlocked processor (a CP.) Linux is the fastest-growing OS on z, and a Linux specialty engine (Integrated Facility for Linux) is relatively cheap compared to the other types of specialty engines. zAAP/zIIP/CP only really matters if you're running z/OS, in which case you're probably a large enough company tat you can afford it, or if you're running z/VSE, in which case you're probably only using one or two processors anyway.
        • by Nerdfest (867930)
          If you're running z/OS, you probably won't mind anyway, as you obviously like to suffer.
      • Yep... imagine having to pay several $K for background antivirus software running 24x7.

      • I manage the storage for a mainframe environment for a large retailer. Our busy season is pretty much now through the end of January. Not only are we in a 'holiday freeze', but we procure additional resources from IBM during this season and then IBM takes them back when we no longer need the resources at the end of the holiday season.

        On the other hand, my coworkers who work in open systems, install quite a bit new hardware every August/September in preparation for the holiday rush, and then it sits idle c

        • by Nerdfest (867930)
          From what I've seen, what you pay for those extra CPU cycles would pay for the new hardware a few times over just the first year. Admittedly, you don't need to install it or have the floor space, but you do get to keep it.
          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            My guess is that you have not done the math. Any company that has a mainframe will also have a team of bean counters. They will check the cost of those extra cycles to adding hardware and even look at the taxes involved. Of course cloud based solution may works as well but if you already have the code on a mainframe you would have to also look at the cost of the port and testing to make it work.

          • by bws111 (1216812)

            You are missing an important piece of the puzzle: software. The monthly license charge for mainframe software is proportional to the performance of the machine it is installed on. A single z196 box can have anywhere from 240 MIPS to 53000 MIPS. Mainframe customers can get exactly the performance they need for each situation, saving them tons of money on licensing.

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        When you want your financial transactions to be 100% correct you will dish out that money. I mean, being a former IBMer, I can't see a lot of value in mainframes outside of the banks. But in the banks I can't see any other solution being as good as IBMs Mainframe.
        • by Relayman (1068986)
          The same reasons it's good for the banks makes it good for other companies. You, as a former IBMer, should know that.
          • by JAlexoi (1085785)
            In cases where it requires the same ultra high precision and reliability - yes. But those cases are not common. And most of those an be covered by lesser hardware.
            • by Relayman (1068986)
              One of my clients, running two iSeries servers for their ERP, email and a sales Web site, was sold to another company. During the purchase process, they reviewed the cost of IT which, for several years now, has been less than 1% of sales, and that includes office supplies! This is for servers without IBM support and without any maintenance support (we buy spare parts when needed). Please don't try that with Windows! It simply won't work.

              The purchase went through and the old owners are very happy with me ri
              • by swalve (1980968)
                I wonder what IT costs are compared to gross revenue for large banking institutions?
            • by Fnord666 (889225)

              In cases where it requires the same ultra high precision and reliability - yes. But those cases are not common. And most of those an be covered by lesser hardware.

              Exactly. Who wants their new skyscraper to be designed on a computer with a Pentium processor doing the floating point math?

    • SunPCI for the JCL crowd!

  • by afabbro (33948) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:29AM (#37986246) Homepage
    From the article: "Make that Windows right next to the mainframe -- i.e., running on the zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX), the mainframe/open systems sidecar...First, Windows-in-a-zBX isn't Windows-in-zVM. Still less is it Windows running in a special processor, a la IBM's Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL). So Windows won't be running on non-x64 -- i.e., Big Iron -- CMOS. Nevertheless, customers will be able to manage Windows from their zEnterprise 196 or zEnterprise 114 mainframes...
  • LOL!!! Now IBM will be on the endless Microsoft virus/buggy money train. I think I will buy some IBM stock. This could also put thousands of unemployed programers to work. Constant buggy upgrades, crashing systems, crappy code etc... IBM's revenue should jump 10 fold.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      LOL!!! Now IBM will be on the endless Microsoft virus/buggy money train. I think I will buy some IBM stock. This could also put thousands of unemployed programers to work. Constant buggy upgrades, crashing systems, crappy code etc... IBM's revenue should jump 10 fold.

      Not so much IBM's worry - but that of any customer who goes that route.

      Bit like replacing a wheel on your car by welding a truck in place - one facing the other direction.

    • by Relayman (1068986)
      I was told in the '90s that IBM had more Windows experts than Microsoft had. Global Services makes a lot of money off of supporting Windows, yes.
  • ...sort of. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Reading through the thick IBM-specific jargon, zBX is actually a blade server management system that places blade servers on a private network connected to the mainframe, with the mainframe managing them. It supports POWER7 (FYI POWER is a "big cousin" to the PowerPC chip) and IBM System x (x86-based) blades.

    So, in actuality, this is Windows running on an x86 box, with the mainframe managing it -- it is not like mainframe Linux where Linux is truly running on the m

    • If I had mod points... Yeah, Windows doesn't run mainframes. This is like when MS announced Hyper-V would "support" linux.

      Don't expect your rational explanation to curtail the "durr, hehe, Big Blue screen of death teehee!" and "Durr, botnet!" childish humor this story will generate.

    • by morcego (260031)

      Dude, comparing POWER to PowerPC is like replacing Charles Sheen with Ashton Kutcher.

      Errrrr ......

      • by swalve (1980968)
        That's also like comparing mainframe to x86. One requires heavy fuel and lots of support staff, the other is great for taking pictures and tweeting about it.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:42AM (#37986420)

    ... Ferrari have just announced that they will be installing a 125cc engine into their 458 Italia. A spokeman said: "It works'a fine in'a the moped, whats'a the problem?"

    • by Jeng (926980)

      Funny, I would imagine it being the other way around, IE: Giant Engine ( mainframe ) powering something that would make no sense such as a Vespa Scooter.

      Would make the Vespa harder to use and more likely to crash spectacularly.

  • IBM is in talks with Eset to produce cobol version of it's software.

  • Why would anyone want to install Windows Desktop on a mainframe?

    Of course, the mainframe is a marginalized beast these days. Why would Microsoft want space on there?

    • Of course, the mainframe is a marginalized beast these days.

      Hardly marginalized. It's doing what it has always done best, which is push lots of data around with raw processing power. Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there humming away crunching data. If you use an ATM, charge something to a credit card, or receive your pay I guarantee you there is a mainframe at the end of that transaction.

      The need for mainframe services never went away, the world just built a whole new computer s

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Of course, the mainframe is a marginalized beast these days.

        Hardly marginalized. It's doing what it has always done best, which is push lots of data around with raw processing power. Just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there humming away crunching data. If you use an ATM, charge something to a credit card, or receive your pay I guarantee you there is a mainframe at the end of that transaction.

        The need for mainframe services never went away, the world just built a whole new computer segment separate from them for new things.

        Everywhere I have worked the mainframes have yielded to blade servers, save one - where they are running some horrible old frankenstein COBOL system in a virtual HP 3000 environment (which could possibly be running on a blade by now, for all I know.)

        • by iggymanz (596061)

          an HP 3000 is a "minicomputer" (in the jargon of the 70s to early 90s) that runs MPE/IX (somewhat unix-like). You just worked at a place where silly people called any server that wasn't a PC a "mainframe". I see that often in my job, manufacturing plants still running AS/400 and calling it a "mainframe", when it's just what was called at the time a "mid-range computer". I've seen Unix microcomputers and Vax called mainframes too, even DEC tried to advertise its big Vax 10000 as a "Vax mainframe", but

  • by Das Auge (597142) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @11:44AM (#37986478)
    The Devil sits on his throne in Hell. On of his minions comes running in.

    "Sire! Sire! Microsoft has ported Windows to a mainframe!"

    The Devil favors him with a surprised look. "Is it that time already? The end of the mortal world?"

    The minion genuflects before him. "Yes! Yes! End of times, master!"

    The Devil rubs his chin. "Windows on a mainframe?"

    The minion nods emphatically.

    The Devil considers it for a few moments, "Well, I don't think I want it anymore."
  • NT was going to be ported to everything. MIPS, DEC Alpha (No love for you VAX people), and the IBM Mainframe.
    It made it onto the Alpha, I think. Sort of. Now Windows is brought in to the mainframe, but not as a conqueror displacing System/360. It is brought in wearing chains, in a cage, by System/360's grandson.

    • by wwphx (225607)
      In the (early?) 90's I saw a Dec Alpha laptop running NT at Comdex. Absolutely awesome laptop. Sadly it never made it to production.

      I do know of an Alpha in production: my wife's observatory has two Alpha's running VMS and Lisp to control the telescope motors. They're 100% reliable, but they're also now looking in to replacing them as it's not exactly a maintainable system.
    • by smithmc (451373) *

      NT was going to be ported to everything. MIPS, DEC Alpha (No love for you VAX people), and the IBM Mainframe. It made it onto the Alpha, I think. Sort of. Now Windows is brought in to the mainframe, but not as a conqueror displacing System/360. It is brought in wearing chains, in a cage, by System/360's grandson.

      IIRC it was officially available at one point or another for Alpha and MIPS R4000. A PowerPC port (for IBM PPC machines, not Macs) was in the works but I'm not sure it was ever released...? Of course, if you count NT-derived OSes that came after the one actually called "Windows NT", then there's also Itanium, and soon to be ARM.

    1. As many have said, this is Windows on a blade, in a frame that is part of the mainframe box
    2. It will most benefit Windows-based applications which access mainframe things on the back end (such as GUI .Net apps with DB2), because the servers are attached through a high-speed internal network.
    3. The system management tool for the hardware will provide unified management of the z/box and the blades, which will help some folk.
    4. There actually was a "Windows" implementation on the mainframe at one time, Bristol had ported Wind/U (a Windows API implementation) to z/OS Unix Systems Services - but after some pushback from Microsoft I believe their license to do so was revoked.
  • Fisher-Price announced today that they will be producing a utility pickup vehicle. It will ship with a sonic lifeform identification unit, and a string-activated audible warning system. The power plant will be an aero-plastic bobble-bed reactor with a Kinetic Inductance Drive transmission and it will run on injection-molded run-flat composite tire-wheels.

  • you get a Big Blue Screen of Death?
  • by igaborf (69869)
    ... that pig sure is pretty in lipstick.
  • IBM used to support Windows NT on their Risc/6000 stations (selected models only). It was a big disappointment, and IBM lost quite a lot of money with that stunt. (Including very high support costs).

    Now they are at it again. Seriously ? Won't they ever learn ?

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      no, this is just a network attached x86-64 windows server, something that is quite common already. now they just have a blade for it and some software to manage the thing

      • by morcego (260031)

        Yeah, my bad. As a typical /.er, I replied before reading the article.
        This way, it actually makes sense for IBM to implement it.

  • Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of Mainframes.
    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of Mainframes.

      Isn't that a Linux meme, not a Windows meme? If so, then, given that Linux (unlike Windows) does run on S/390 and z/Architecture, it could probably be done....

  • BLUE. SCREEN. OF. DEATH.

  • IBM'll support anything as long they can flog their overpriced CPUs together with the pitch that it eventually is cheaper considering rack space and personnel.
  • by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @02:27PM (#37988828) Homepage

    Microsoft should know the principle of network externals better than anyone. In computing you often can't dethrone the status quo with a better product, much less an inferior one (and I'm going to guess the Windows solution is inferior in this case if, for no other reason, lack of access to the source code). It is this principle that keeps Windows alive on the desktop in the face of better solutions - and it is what allowed IE to hang on as long as it did.

    Microsoft would be better served trying to make some presence on the phone market before it is too late. iPhone and Android are already entrenched to the point that where phones a traditional market Microsoft would be utterly doomed. But they get a saving grace in that phone contracts and devices tend to rotate about once every 2 years. That rapid rotation might give them a chance, otherwise they are shackled to their desktop market - a market that is now just as irrelevant to the future as the mainframe market that IBM lorded over the computing world with back in the 1980's, until Microsoft themselves dethroned Big Blue.

    This doomed foray into big iron isn't any more likely to succeed now than it was in the 1980's. IBM has most of the share and none of the players in the field want to have anything to do with Microsoft. These machines are being used by engineers who want total control over the hardware they own and expect nothing less - which is why Linux is the dominant OS and the other major OS'es are open source. I doubt Microsoft really even understands the market they are trying to enter. On the whole its a waste of their time and resources.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      No, the reason is that some apps require Windows middleware between the users and the mainframe. Instead of having the middleware outside the mainframe, now it is sort of bolted onto the side of it. This isn't Microsoft trying to gain marketshare, it is IBM trying to give a better value to its customers. They are saying "you are stuck with these Windows boxes, right? Instead of paying someone else for management services and software, why not pay us?"
  • I've been working on Unisys mainframes/Enterprise servers for years (decades...) and they run their OS on top on a "hardened" Windows server (2008 on the latest). I never get to that level (thank god) and it's the poor engineers who fiddle with it.

    And it causes problems - Windows device drivers aren't as flexible as Unisys ones. And for that reason the latest Unisys Clearpaths have lost the Microsoft layer entirely - run on Firmware that runs on the chips. Safer, more controllable, in-house. So, IBM

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      What does any of that have to do with this article? This has zero to do with a mainframe running (or, god forbid, ON) Windows. This is about giving a Windows server a high-speed, secure, interconnect to mainframe data (DB2, IMS, etc), and having the mainframe provide management of the Windows blade.

  • Well, I guess it is time to update xbill [xbill.org], adding mainframes to the list of computers to protect...

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