Two weeks ago on an HP blog, blogger John Pickett based much his anti-IBM System z196 zBX claims on what was “heard” rather than on hard evidence. The zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX) is the new infrastructure for extending tried and true System z qualities of service and management capabilities across a set of integrated, fit-for-purpose POWER7 and IBM x86 compute blades.
Pickett claimed: (responses are underlined)
IBM will use non-standard POWER7 and x86 blades. This is false, IBM plans on using its standard blades.
Pickett then lists, numerically, half-truths, rumors and then bases conclusions on them:
1) Will the zBX Blades be a replacement for the mainframe specialty engines? No... so you'll have to determine when to run a workload on a mainframe general processor, a specialty engine, a zBX Power blade or a zBX x86 blade...and those are just the mainframe-centric options. The IBM blades are enhancements to the existing System z infrastructure, which will utilize System z's existing application administration. This is no different than any other application.
2) Why the need for unique Power7 and x86 blades specific to the zBX? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of an open environment? It might if there were indeed unique IBM blades – but they are standard IBM blades. zBX will not support every blade IBM ever designed, but does support specific GA blades.
3) Will the zBX have the same availability as the mainframe? No, Just because the zBX is connected to the mainframe does not mean the availability from the mainframe is transferred. This assumption is not based on anything published by IBM. Since the assumption is false, the conclusion is false as well. The zBX chassis itself has been "hardened" to be more like a mainframe in its availability characteristics. All features are replicated - this redundancy provides higher availability then standard blades. Even the high speed private network is redundant. Redundancy allows continued service in the case of an outage of a particular feature. In addition, the zBX is monitored for availability and in case of outage - a call home is initiated automatically. Do any HP blade chassis have full feature replication?
4) Isn’t the business justification more than a little challenging? Much of the cost parameters are based on soft calculations to “increase operational efficiency” (the same which can also be said of non-mainframe platforms). Should the application run on a blade in the zBX, a specialty engine such as an IFL or a mainframe general purpose processor? And don’t get me started on the mainframe pricing schemes from WLC, AWLC, PSLC, zNALC, etc. Notwithstanding Pickett never answering his question, the operational efficiency comes from the housekeeping required of standard blades. Things that are time consuming for standard blades include OS and virtualization upgrades to keep all blades at the same release levels and security levels. This is all done through rules and automatically by zManager and zBX.
5) How about investment protection? Can you use pre-existing IBM Power Blades? No. Pre-existing IBM x86 Blades? No. Pre-existing z10? No. These options were withdrawn by IBM prior to the zBX even being shipped. Why force mainframe owners to upgrade to a z196 just to evaluate the zBX? First, one can use pre-existing IBM blades if they are the specified type. This means that these boards exist today.
Second, are we to conclude that HP supports any blades it ever sold in any of its blade chassis? No. And for a third party view, “IBM has been successful in making their chassis totally backward compatible with their older modules and blades and most of their newer modules and blades fit in their older chassis with performance restrictions in rare cases, but that offer a great investment protection to customers who is upgrading their chassis comparing to HP which forcing their customers to toss their old blades and modules out as none of it is compatible across chassis. Who knows if the next HP chassis will follow up the same path as their current one, which mean a total lost of investment when upgrading.”
6) Will ISV applications need to be retested and recertified? Unknown. Perhaps unknown to Pickett is that ISV applications (and customer apps) will work unchanged. If they ran on AIX before, they will work in this environment. No retesting or recertification. ISV applications are certified for an OS - on the zBX, the OS is the same as on standard blades.
7) What about Windows Server and SQL support? Not available. This is actually true, as of this date.
8) Is VMware supported? Nope—not there either. Nor it is available on System z or on POWER7 systems. Both have superior and more secure virtualization than is offered by VMware. However, the point is that Vmware is not required -- zManager provides most of these functions, the customer saves on license costs for VMware, the administration of VMware, its setup, upgrading, securing, etc. All this is provided and managed by zManager
9) The new URM (Unified Resource Manager) will simplify your management, right? Not exactly. URM handles the hardware, but you will still need other products such as Tivoli Provisioning Manager, Tivoli Service Automation Manager and OMEGAMON for automation, control and service management. Not required. This is a customer's choice in terms of the service management functions they want to add to the environment.
Pickett concludes: That really does not sound like something that reduces complexity. Sure, if one bases a conclusion on wrong, poor, and incomplete facts, as is the case here.