Thursday, 5 March 2009

Running Windows on a ... mainframe?


Software that for the first time lets users run native copies of the Windows operating systems on a mainframe will be introduced Friday by data center automation vendor Mantissa.

The company's z/VOS software is a CMS application that runs on IBM's z/VM and creates a foundation for Intel-based operating systems.

Users only need a desktop appliance running Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client, which is the same technology used to attach to Windows running on Terminal Server or Citrix-based servers.

Users will be able to connect to their virtual and fully functional Windows environments without any knowledge that the operating system and the applications are executing on the mainframe and not the desktop.

According to the company's Web site, users will be able to create a PC in 15 seconds, have it operational in 15 minutes and use it once or have it permanently without worrying about depreciation of hardware.

Because z/VOS supports x86 architectures, the technology also can run Linux images.

The z/VM hypervisor already natively supports the ability to run hundreds to thousands of Linux servers on a single mainframe.

Mantissa is attempting to match that performance for Windows via z/VOS.

The company says z/VOS will eliminate the need to acquire and maintain desktop hardware and costs associated with PCs such as high power consumption.

"The product has been a bear for the development group but the thought of being able to run 3,000 copies of Windows on one System z so fascinated the team that we needed very little additional incentive," Mantissa CEO and founder Gary Dennis said on the IBMVM list serve site last summer when he introduced the z/VOS concept.

Dennis did not respond to inquires asking for comment on this story.

He is scheduled to introduce z/VOS Friday at the annual Share conference in Austin, Texas, during a presentation entitled "x86 Virtualization Technology for System z."

Mantissa says z/VOS will be the cornerstone of what it calls its utility virtualization product line.

"To my knowledge this has never been done on a mainframe, but always on some other kind of terminal server with an Intel architecture and not System z," says Clay Ryder, president of the Sageza Group. "I could see for schools or fixed function workstations. It would be terrific in there is nothing to touch and you can deploy those devices and everything takes place in one central location. As students or users leave, files can be cleaned or archived or whatever and from an administrative point of view that is a real plus."

I think that as virtualisation becomes more and more prevalent, the mainframe will enjoy a resurgence of popularity. Even if running an individual mainframe is more complicated than running one PC, it's definitely not as complicated as managing 2000 or 3000 PCs! Same for power consumption, upgrading, etc., etc.

The future's bright. The future's Blue.


Anonymous said...

This concept sounds like a spiffed up 3278 terminal environment. I've been there and done that and am happy to be long since liberated from the tyranny of the Commissars in the Glass Room.

What next, SNA redux?

I prefer to keep my own processor, memory, and local storage thank you very much.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Missing the point, it's not meant to replace your desktop PC, it's meant to consolidate your hundreds of server PCs.

DaveA said...

z/VOS (Virtual Operating System)anything to do with the non stop processing O/S that ran on Stratus machines on the 80s?

As anon wrote is it a rebadged terminal emulation software?

Obo, hands on the keyboard when reading installation notes.

Anonymous said...

Ah, consolidating servers is fine, that's what mainframes are good for. Just don't monkey with my local stuff.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

@DaveA: Think the original article may have had a typo, I know the mainframe OS as z/OS. From my occasional chats with z/OS bearded types, they don't feel they need to take any lessons from a failed tin vendor. :o)

DaveA said...

So just upgraded OS/VS1, OS/VS2, MVS, MVS/XA, OS/390 yawn.

My claim to fame in IT is I met a guy who worked on the Univac1 and help design the operating and system. Also my brother designed Sybase 10 and 11 from a connectivity and performance point of view.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

From a connectivity and a performance point of view?

I think your brother is winding you up.

Anonymous said...

Not it's not a spiffed-up terminal emulator.

It's native Windows code running on Z-series hardware via a virtualisation layer.

And it's nothing remotely new. You could do this on the AS/400 back in the early nineties. When first introduced it required a special hardware adaptor card (which presumably had an X86 CPU on it somewhere) but that requirement lapsed round about OS/400 V5 irrc.

Nothing to get excited about.

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous (11:37) is a true techno-Libertarian.

I applaud his desire to break free of the tyranny...

DaveA said...

Obo he led the teams that did both, and reported into the Product Manager.

Experience: OnDisplay VP Product Technology;

Sybase Director level;

Motorola Computer Systems Manager;
Honeywell Control Systems systems engineer

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leogex said...

And windows on a mainframe is an advance how?

DG said...

Why on earth would you want to do that ? We've been doing it for years on server blades using vmware. Seems a waste of expensive mips when there are cheaper solutions out there.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Reliability, security, scalability. (I just had a presentation from bunch of z/OS guys! It was seriously impressive. :o)

Anonymous said...

This has taken a long time to come - I've been waiting since the golden days of APPC and DB2/2 (shudder).

In twenty years, I've gone from an operational environment of running three S/390s to 4,500 different servers, for similarly-sized firms. Let's not get into 15,000 desktops on top of that.

It looks cheaper to the beancounters to have immense numbers of machines that work a 35-hour week, but if we mainframed, our manpower requirement would be halved. Oh fuck, they are going to do that anyway, no matter what :-(