IBM is trying to sell mainframes to companies in India, Russia and China, promoting them as ways to reduce power and cooling costs. It said that the power grid in places such as Mumbai is creaking under the strain of server sprawl, as companies plug in more and more Wintel boxes.
Big Blue claimed that moving parts of its System z mainframe development to labs in those three countries has given it a greater insight into the needs of other companies in emerging markets.
It wants large and mid-sized companies to consider running Linux virtual machines on a mainframe instead of stand-alone servers. It argues that not only does it bring operational efficiency – there's just one machine to house and manage – but it has performance advantages too, as a mainframe copes with demand spikes better than a rack-mount server
"The cost and availability of energy are issues all around the world, but they are acutely important in India, making the mainframe especially attractive here," said System z general manager Jim Stallings.
The difficulty, clearly, is persuading people that what still tends to be seen as old technology is flexible and efficient enough to cope with modern needs.
Stallings was speaking as he announced a set of services from IBM, aimed at helping large and mid-sized companies move to mainframes. He said the services would include installing and tuning Linux on System z, plus help in consolidating a data centre onto a single mainframe.
Other new IBM services cover installing, configuring and upgrading DB2 and IMS databases on the mainframe's z/OS and on Linux, plus help in porting databases to DB2 and deploying Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) on z/OS for security and Web commerce.
IBM also wants to get people using Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) on z/OS – it described this as "a sweet-spot for the mainframe, with its huge capacity and ability to manage spikes as they come." It said that its "Getting started with SOA on System z" service will include Web services, plus security and deployment skills for its MQ, ESB and WebSphere SOA tools.
The company said it will deliver its mainframe services to India via an IBM unit based in Bangalore. It would not say how or when they would be offered in Russia or China, however.