The Computing Industry's Perpetual Springtime

Jake Freivald's picture
 By | May 20, 2014
in architecture, Cloud Computing, IBM, mainframe
May 20, 2014

A System/360 being used at NASA in the late 1960s. The photo is in the public domain. 

I'm going to talk about the cloud, but bear with me for a paragraph. 

In 1965, IBM System/360 mainframes revolutionized computing. The System/360 was a large, centralized computing platform with distributed endpoints -- high-speed printers and other terminals -- that allowed people in different locations to work with them. Today's IBM System z mainframes are direct descendents of these original business computers. (I respect mainframes a lot, having cut my technical teeth on them in the late 1990s.)

Through five decades and several decentralization-centralization pendulum swings, our industry's architecture evolved to include public clouds, where infrastructure was outside the four walls of the enterprise and accessed through Internet protocols.

Public cloud wasn't perfect for every situation, though. The notion of "private cloud" was invented to denote flexible services that, for security and other reasons, are managed inside a company's four walls.

To have a private cloud, you need infrastructure: computers and servers with virtual machines running services, networks to connect to endpoints, and standardized endpoints. Over the past several years, private clouds have led to companies creating computing appliances that included all of these features in a single platform. As oxymoronic as it may seem, the term "cloud in a box" was born.

I just received the latest edition of IBMSystems magazine, which focuses on mainframe computing. The cover? "Cloud in a Box". An excerpt from the second paragraph of the cover article

IBM announced the Enterprise Cloud System on April 8. The system offers clients a converged pre-integrated stack of System z hardware, IBM storage and cloud and virtualization software in one package. Basically, it’s a cloud in a box, providing everything clients need to build private and hybrid cloud infrastructures with Linux on System z.

I guess everything old really is new again.  

Okay, I admit it -- I really wrote this blog post because I'm nostalgic for my mainframe days and I find the everything-old-is-new thing to be pretty cool.

But it relates to what we do here at Information Builders, too: No matter what systems we're using, good ideas and good systems have a way of continuing to come around and around. "Big Data" is already becoming "data." Information and applications will centralize, decentralize, and centralize again. Wearable computers -- information generation and consumption endpoints -- have vascillated between large and small and back, and will continue to do so as they're mounted on eyeglasses and embedded under the skin.

And while all of that's going on, a good software platform will engage the present while looking forward to the future and accommodating the past. That's what we do at Information Builders, which is part of what makes it such a great partner for our customers in their business efforts, and such a great place for us employees to work and learn.

(By the way, if you need outstanding business intelligence software that runs superbly well on System z, we're a great choice. Here's a white paper that discusses the reasons why.)