630 servers, one machine: Cloud computing on a mainframe

An upstate New York college sees great economic advantage by running cloud computing on a mainframe.

On one mainframe, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., runs 630 virtual servers. Some of them are dedicated to computer sciences, some for web sites, and some for client and/or partner organizations. The end users don’t know they are on a mainframe; they think they have their own server.

“The advantage of using a mainframe is tremendous,” said Bill Thirsk, chief information officer at Marist College. “One of the applications that we use for managing the school…requires 10 large servers to run the entire suite of programs. We didn’t buy 10 machines; we simply put it on our mainframe, which pre-existed.”

A mainframe is highly efficient as far as the power, cooling, and floor space needed.

“My data center is only 2,000 square feet,” Thirsk said, “yet I have in total probably 630 servers running in there. It takes your computing room, your heating and cooling, your power requirement, and your processing requirement and puts them into what I call an extremely high-density services model.”

A mainframe that is virtualized into many smaller servers does not need network switches, cables, additional electrical outlets, more UPS capacity, racks, or any other additional equipment, Thirsk said. It’s infinitely scalable, too.

eSchool News Staff

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