Mainframes and the cloud – everything old is new again

Cloud computing, virtual machines. It’s big business. Amazon has its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) which provides “resizable compute capacity in the cloud“, Microsoft has Azure, providing “on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet” and Google’s offering is App Engine which offers “the ability to build and host web applications on Google’s infrastructure“. As you might know, I’m personally very taken with App Engine.

The offerings are slightly different – for example, while EC2 is bare virtual hardware, App Engine is a web application platform in the cloud. But they all have similar pricing arrangements, based generally on uptime or CPU time, I/O  and storage.

Does this seem familiar to you? It does to me, but then again, I did just turn 0x2B this month. In 1988 I was working in the Database Support Group at a major energy company in London, looking after the SAP R/2 databases, which were powered by IMS DB/DC, on MVS – yes, IBM big iron mainframes. I still look back on those days with fond memories.

In reviewing some 3rd party software, I wrote a document entitled “BMC Software’s Image Copy Plus: An Evaluation“. BMC’s Image Copy Plus was a product which offered faster image copies of our IMS DB (VSAM) databases. (Image Copy Plus, as well as IMS, is still around, over 20 years on! But that has to be the subject of another post).

One of the sections of the evaluation was to compare costs, as well as time — by how much would the backup costs be reduced using BMC’s offering?

And have a guess on what the cost comparison was based? Yes. CPU time, I/O (disk and tape EXCPs) and actual tapes.

Mainframe Job Billing

Everything old is new again.