Mainframes are dead! I was told this when I first started working in the computer industry in 1994. However, in 2010 Mainframe revenue was approximately $2.55 billion. Perhaps Mr. Twain stated it best when he said, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
Windows vs. Mac, SysV vs. BSD, UNIX vs. Linux, Mainframes vs. Open Systems, and Infiniband vs. The World.
The list goes on and on. And probably will till the end of time. Humans like face offs, battles to the death and such. However the truth is much more complicated.
Within the stories of VMware, clouds and Ethernet fabrics lies a common thread…convergence. This often leads to grand statements like “NFS is secretly taking over the world!” or “Fibre Channel is dead!” or “Is iSCSI finally ready yet?”
As humans we love to over simplify change, and make grand statements about the future. And somewhere in the details lies the truth.
When I was a SAN administrator, I spent most of my time managing my Storage Arrays. Probably 80 percent, if you also count budget exercises and planning. Managing my Fibre Channel switches took a relatively small amount of time. Mainly because they just worked. Only once did I experience a total outage.
When NFS was first available on the same array, many of my friends were nervous. “Those network guys are trying to take our jobs!” Not True. No routing guy wants to manage storage arrays. Adding NFS to my array increased my importance.
Now instead of just serving data to servers with HBAs, I could now also serve data to servers that only had NICs. A FICON card? Sure! Now I can support the mainframe people. What about iSCSI? Hey, now I can offer block-level storage to my NIC bound servers. FCoE? Very cool! Now I can bring the FCP protocol I know and love to more of my customers.
Protocols are not religions. They are a way to organize a stream of bits that fly from one device to another. That is all. Adding a new protocol does not mean the death of an earlier one. It means adding a new kid to your family. Your family grows and becomes more diverse, more able to handle new challenges, the future.
In the world of Ethernet fabrics & clouds, you need to offer solutions to customers of every type and every walk of life. You need to be nimble, dynamic and fluid. A proper cloud will offer UNIX and Linux AND Windows, Fibre Channel, Ethernet, NFS, FCoE, maybe a dash of Infiniband.
Don’t forget to add a Mainframe for a little flavor. You’ll probably want a hypervisor under there too (a trick learned from our mainframe friends).
So don’t get caught up in a religious war. A cloud must be everything to everyone. Ethernet fabrics build the foundation for a cloud that can grow, change and adapt. And by doing so you can avoid becoming the very best and very last buggy whip maker in a world full of Model T’s.