Lean Green z Machine

The Xeroxed sign mounted with Scotch tape next to the elevator reads:

"Are you sure you can't take the stairs and reduce elevator energy usage?"

Like many of you, I am working for an employer on a serious green kick.

This political correctness has bugged the snot out of me for months. I often take the elevator even when I don't need to just to spite it. "Turn off that monitor ..." (which already has built-in automatic power down) "..., PC, and unplug those phone chargers when not in use." Okay, the phone chargers I admit I did not think of. "Don't forget to turn out the lights." (most of which are timed and shut off automatically and the rest are motion activated when someone enters the room and then shut off when everyone has left)

And then there's "the z". What is most frustrating about the whole energy conservation pep rally is that my team is already saving gobs of juice. We're the good guys! And we didn't start saving energy when it came into vogue: consolidate and virtualize, lose the cabling rat's nest, share computing on a grand scale, all while enjoying even better reliability than the other hardware you left behind.

To the reader unfamiliar with IBM class mainframes, they're really not so different. A z10 is just a computer. It can run Linux. Heck, it can run Solaris. If we traditional mainframers are fond of z/OS and z/VM and such, it's just that we have gotten to know these other operating systems. You can too! Or you can stick with Linux and still reap the hardware benefits. (Windows might be a little tough ... if that Birmingham outfit takes much longer with there magic.)

This is cool hardware, pun intended. Try this: Head to your machine room. Walk past a Sun or an HP rack. Then walk past a z10. Not only redundant and reliable, but easy on your wattage wallet. This is why you see entertaining ads like the one where all the servers have been slurped up into one frame. ("Great Server Heist") A data center which can cut lose that many servers would freeze from the sudden loss of cabin pressure. In reality, the savings in air conditioning are substantial. The mainframe is cheaper to run and cheaper to cool.

Personally, I'm fond of VM. (Notice that I often spell it without the requisite "z/" prefix.) It's the original personal computer. It's the he-man of hypervisors, the vanguard of virtualization. On VM, it's almost trivial to bring a POSIX workload from any other platform (AIX, HP, Solaris). Create a virtual machine for each such instance. The advantages of this go way beyond the ecological point of this post. Let me try to stay on track.

And olde z/OS is at no loss in the green climate. Do more? You betcha. While SETI scrapes wasted cycles from idle desktop machines around the world, z/OS manages to run real business batch jobs keeping your z10 at 90% busy, or more, and still give sub-second response time to interactive apps. (Maybe I should move SETI to z/OS since the sign told me to turn off my PC when heading home.)

-- R;