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zSeries: App-specific processing engines ahead?

This year could bring relief for mainframe organizations struggling to justify the cost of running native COBOL or Assembly applications in the IBM z/OS. Eighteen months ago, IBM introduced its zSeries Application Assist Processor, a dedicated J2EE processor engine for zSeries. zAAP significantly reduced the cost of running J2EE workloads on z/OS. As a result, interest in J2EE on zSeries appears to have skyrocketed.

There's a chance Big Blue is mulling other, application-specific processor applications for zSeries--possibly for existing COBOL applications. "We do believe the mainframe provides significant added value over the competition, and so we want to make sure that it is priced appropriately," says Colette Martin, zSeries program director with IBM. "We are also looking at specific workloads and looking at specific areas where we may do additional price performance improvements, and I think as time goes on you'll see us make the kind of enhancements similar to what we did for the zAAP for other types of z/OS workloads."

zAAP is a J2EE-oriented offering, and J2EE--like Big Iron Linux--is the kind of non-traditional workload Big Blue has been at such pains to cultivate for zSeries. This is of little comfort, however, to mainframe technologists struggling to cost-justify the COBOL status quo. Does IBM plan to introduce zAAP-like engines for traditional COBOL applications?

It's possible, Martin says. "COBOL applications typically are seen in terms of data-serving types of workloads and back-end types of processing, so if we looked at it, we wouldn't necessarily look at COBOL per se, but we would look at in terms of database connectivity and such," she indicates.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at stephen.swoyer@spinkle.net.

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