One of the odd things about having worked in IBM for 24 years now is that there are people I work with at IBM who hadn’t been born when I started working in IBM Hursley. And when I started I was given a desk with a 3270 mainframe terminal on it which weirded me out somewhat. At University, studying Computer Science I had been used to using Unix machines with large graphical displays. And the closest I had come to a mainframe was the department Vax, and various other mini computers connected to the UK academic JANET network around the country which we were happy to hack into in order to play MUD and MIST in Essex and Aberystwyth. I had assumed that mainframes were dead. And pretty much so did everyone else out in the world.
Funny thing was they didn’t die. They evolved. Just like dinosaurs did. Mainframes back in the 80s and early 90s were different beasts to those we see today – completely different technology – but still the same goal. Very high performance. Very high throughput. Very high reliability. Which, by an odd coincidence, is the same set of characteristics that businesses need for their core business systems. These aren’t systems that the regular public have much to do with, even though they interact with them every day. When checking their bank account, withdrawing money, booking a holiday, interacting with a large business in any way, you are driving work on a mainframe. You never see it, because it just works. Any failure you see would typically be on the front-end. If there was a failure on your ATM, it is likely a Windows (or similar) error screen you see, not a mainframe error message. These machines are invisible, ever present, running and running like the Duracell bunny. Running the world? I think they might just be. And it appears I am not alone in thinking that.
If you have applications on a mainframe, running your business world, then these applications won’t run in splendid isolation. They need to connect to the rest of your business, sharing data, completing orders, adding new customers. And ideal for these workloads, and any new workloads is WebSphere MQ. We have a specific offering for running on IBM System z mainframes – WebSphere MQ for z/OS – which is built to exploit many of the key features in our leading mainframes. It handles a million messages per second. It uses the Coupling Facility and Shared Queues to help you to avoid ever losing messages. And of course it has tremendous robustness and security, ideal for ensuring your business can keep doing what it needs to do. Day-in, day-out.
And October 15th 2013 we announced a new way to buy this offering – WebSphere MQ for z/OS Value Unit Edition. This offers the exact same product as the existing WebSphere MQ for z/OS, but is available to buy as a ‘One Time Charge’ transaction, rather than being charged per monthly usage as the existing WebSphere MQ for z/OS product is. So now there is a choice of how to buy this leading messaging solution for z/OS – a monthly license charge, or buy it upfront for your new workloads, deployed on new logical partitions (called zNALC). The dinosaurs just got a little more agile, a little faster. I guess they are evolving into birds.