Archive for March, 2013

Lessons from IBM Eagle TCO Analyses

A company running an obsolete z890 mainframe with what amounted to 0.88 processors (332 MIPS) planned a migration to a distributed system consisted of 36 distributed UNIX servers. The production workload consisted of applications, database, testing, development, security, and more.  Five years later, the company was running the same in the 36-server, multi-core (41x more cores than the z890) distributed environment except that its 4-year TCO went from $4.9 million to $17.9 million based on an IBM Eagle study.  The lesson, the Eagle team notes: cores drive platform costs in distributed systems.

Then there is the case of a 3500 MIPS mainframe shop that budgeted $10 million for a 1-year migration to a distributed environment. Eighteen months into the project, now six months behind schedule, the company had spent $25 million and only managed to offload 350 MIPS. In addition, it had to increase staff to cover the  over-run, implement steps to replace mainframe automation, had to acquire additional distributed capacity over the initial prediction (to support only 10% of total MIPS offloaded), and had to extend the period of running the old and the new systems in parallel at even more cost due to the schedule overrun. Not surprisingly, the executive sponsor is gone.

If the goal of a migration to the distributed environment is cost savings, the IBM Eagle team has concluded after 3 years of doing such analyses, most migrations are a failure. Read the Eagle FAQ here.

The Eagle TCO team was formed in 2007 and since then reports completing over 300 user studies.  Often its studies are used to determine the best platform among IBM’s various choices for a given set of workloads, usually as part of a Fit for Purpose. In other cases, the Eagle analysis is aimed at enabling a System z shop to avoid a migration to a distributed platform. The Eagle team, in fact, is platform agnostic until it completes its quantitative analysis, when the resulting numbers generally make the decisions clear.

Along the way, the Eagle team has learned a few lessons.  For example:  re-hosting projects tend to be larger than anticipated. The typical one-year projection will likely turn into a two- or three-year project.

The Eagle team also offers the following tips, which can help existing shops that aren’t necessarily looking to migrate but just want to minimize costs:

  • Update hardware and software; new systems generally are more cost-efficient. For example one bank upgraded from z/OS 1.6 to 1.8 and reduced each LPAR’s MIPS by 5% (monthly software cost savings paid for the upgrade almost immediately)
  • Schedule workloads to take advantage of sub-capacity software pricing for platforms that offer it, which may produce free workloads
  • Consolidate workloads on Linux, which invariably saves money, especially when consolidating many Linux virtual servers on a mainframe IFL. (A recent debate raged on LinkedIn focused on how many virtual instances can run on an IFL with some suggesting a max of 20. The official IBM figure:  you can consolidate up to 60 distributed cores or more on a single System z core; a single System z core = an IFL.)
  • Changing the database can impact capacity requirements and therefore costs, resulting in lower hardware and software costs
  • Consider the  IBM mainframe Solution Edition program, which is the best mainframe deal going, enabling you to acquire a new mainframe for workloads you’ve never run on a mainframe for a deeply discounted package price including hardware, software, middleware, and 3 years of maintenance.

 BottomlineIT generally is skeptical of TCO analyses from vendors. To be useful the analysis needs to include full context, technical details (components, release levels, and prices), and specific quantified benchmark results.  In addition, there are soft costs that must be considered.  Eagle analyses generally do that.

In the end, the lowest acquisition cost or even the lowest TCO isn’t necessarily the best platform choice for a given situation or workload. Determining the right platform requires both quantifiable analysis and judgment.

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Cloud Management Platforms (CMP) Come of Age

Every organization deploying applications to the cloud will want CMP, advises Gartner in its Cloud Management Platforms, 2013 report.

In a different Gartner report, titled Cool Vendors in Cloud Management, the researchers note: As enterprises deploy private clouds, interest in managing them is rising. Innovative CMP vendors—what Gartner dubs Cool Vendors—can help manage infrastructure resources to deliver service quality, security, and availability for workloads running in cloud environments.

“The benefits become obvious as enterprises start to deploy serious business workloads in the cloud, and these benefits all address bottom line concerns,” says Steven Henning, CMO, ServiceMesh.  The benefits revolve around grabbing new market opportunities fast and accelerating the introduction of new business capabilities that bring in customers and revenue.  ServiceMesh is one of the four cool CMP vendors named in Gartner’s report along with Cloupia, Eucalyptus, and Nimbula.

For DevOps to really hum, particularly when working at the speed of the cloud, it must work with IT to provision policies and governance across the software development lifecycle to create a common application platform and resources that support any language, streamline the entire application lifecycle, and generate market-ready applications faster than competitors. That’s why you want CMP technology.

CMP helps IT too. Often IT overhead and infrastructure management inhibit the allocation of developer resources and slow the organization’s ability to drive innovation at the speed of market demand. But by provisioning applications across the application lifecycle with pre-configured IT production-like containers for the application code, both IT and developers bypass the bottlenecks that occur at each phase of the software development lifecycle and speed delivery of applications to the cloud.

As 451 Research notes: Working where application development meets IT operations, DevOps teams moving to the cloud need tools to design application architecture, deploy it into production, and prevent unauthorized configuration drift.

451 Research was particularly impressed with ServiceMesh’s Agility Platform. Designed as an enterprise-class CMP, Agility embodies ServiceMesh’s conviction that platforms and applications drive business value, not infrastructure. Accordingly, the company believes that cloud governance has to be both application-centric, for today’s needs, and extensible, for the needs of tomorrow. Not surprisingly, the company is a major advocate of collaboration between application development teams and IT operations teams.

The 451 researchers observed that Agility Platform’s existing policies, event correlation capabilities, and application context awareness can all be harnessed to advance automated configuration management. It also plays nicely with the in-place CMDB, Puppet Master Server, and any other third-party tools.  In short, it is designed to address exactly the needs of enterprise DevOps.

Gartner, too, liked Agility Platform:  It identifies ServiceMesh’s strengths as a strong policy engine and lifecycle management. Furthermore, it is differentiated by connectors to third party providers and integration with other management systems. Finally Agility Platform provides policy-driven management, governance, security, and lifecycle management capabilities for private or hybrid cloud initiatives;  enabling IT organizations to manage all phases of the cloud computing lifecycle including the plan, build, and run stages by leveraging its policy-based framework. In addition, ServiceMesh’s cloud-native architecture can expand automatically through horizontal scaling to handle increasing system demands, according to Gartner.

But as Gartner noted, there are three others among its cool vendors in cloud management:

Cloupia offers its Unified Infrastructure Controller (UIC) as its cloud management platform (CMP). The UIC is software that enables the management of both private and public cloud services. It supports a self-service interface, workflow engine, and an orchestrator for virtual machine (VM) and physical infrastructure provisioning, Gartner reports.

Eucalyptus is a little different by providing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) capabilities through an open-source software-based infrastructure for implementing on-premises clouds on existing infrastructure. The company’s strategy, according to Gartner, is to remain an IaaS platform, continue to advance its functionality, and build out a partner ecosystem to offer a more complete cloud solution.

Nimbula offers Director 2.0, which provides capabilities to build, manage, scale, and secure cloud environments across on-premises pools of virtualized IT resources as well as resources in public clouds, such as Amazon’s EC2. Like most of the others it uses the representational state transfer (REST) API to interface with cloud resources—both on premise and in public clouds—and it provides automation to manage the allocation of those resources, similar to ServiceMesh’s policy-based automation engine.

No vendor provides a complete CMP solution yet although ServiceMesh comes close. Still, you may need additional tools or may have to integrate multiple CMP approaches. But the CMP market is evolving fast; if you wait six months, each product will be better. Just don’t wait too long or you may miss fleeting opportunities. Tools like these enable DevOps to move that fast.

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