Volume 19, Number 27 -- July 26, 2010

Reader Feedback on Microsoft Azure: An AS/400 for Private and Public Clouds

Published: July 26, 2010

Hey, TPM:

I have quite a bit of trouble dropping the i into a cloud, where hardware virtualization and abstraction are considered to be key concepts. While the i's partition capability is roughly equivalent to virtualization, Microsoft's live migration feature (a substantial improvement over Quick Migration) allows nearly instantaneous move of virtual machine to another host; a capability that doesn't seem to be practical within the highly integrated i environment.

Live migration has prerequisites (including all servers must be on the same failover cluster, all CPUs must belong to the same processor family, SAN required) but the bottom line is that live migration provides a considerably more flexible cloud because VMs can be moved at will to reduce network latency, to minimize energy use (by using Microsoft's Core Parking), to eliminate the high cost of a hot site, to provide higher service levels, and to minimize taxes (by serving from a tax-friendly server), among other reasons. If you hate OS upgrades, you'll love Azure!

Don't forget about Azure (Microsoft's OS for the Cloud) as a .NET developer's platform--there's no network infrastructure to worry about and the entry cost is very low. And Azure handles PHP, SOAP, REST, and XML as well.

With the scalability of the cloud, the elimination of capital investment, and the ability to raise SLAs to the limits of the application, local hardware may go the way of the TV antenna.

--Reeve Fritchman, (a Microsoft employee offering his personal opinion and not speaking for the company)

As you can see from Fritchman's LinkedIn profile, he is no stranger to the System/3X and AS/400 architectures. He worked on System/3 and System/34 machines, and then moved on to System/38 and AS/400s, writing code for the transportation industry. Fritchman is a senior solution manager at Microsoft these days, and is well acquainted with i-to-.NET migrations.

What Fritchman might not know is that IBM has live migration--which it calls live partition mobility--on its AIX 6.1 operating system running on Power Systems iron, as well as workload partition mobility for workload partitions on AIX. These are absolutely analogous to Microsoft's live migration, and there is no reason on this big blue marble why live partitions can't be fashioned for the i platform. Prior to the merger of the System i and System p lines, that was the plan, in fact. But then IBM ditched the idea for obviously insane reasons. Or perhaps equally sane ones, protecting the high availability clustering and disaster recovery businesses of its several partners. --TPM


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