Sun's Supposed Target on Mainframes, SNIA's Role in the Storage Market and Where's the iSeries?

Readers comment on past issues.

Current Events
I loved this article ["Top 100 Power Picks" July 2002] … for obvious reasons, given I work for IBM. Is there a distribution list that I can be put on for regular e-mails?

I'd be interested in being kept up to date on your articles.

—Steve Bates
Storage Sales Specialist
IBM Storage Systems Group

You can subscribe to Enterprise Strategies, our twice-weekly e-mail newsletter for managers of large systems, at We'll also alert you each month when the current print issue appears on our Web site. The complete contents of the July 2002 issue of Enterprise Systems is available now at, as well as years of searchable back issues.

Sun Targets Mainframes?
[Regarding "Sun Targets Mainframes with Blue Away Initiative" in the July issue:] You just can't trade mainframes running MVS with Sun servers running Solaris. What about converting applications, etc.—an enormous cost! Most, if not all, companies using mainframes have their own old, large in-house-developed applications and have large IT departments that are skilled in development on the mainframe. They have considerable investment in large-scale batch operations and transaction IBM servers such as IMS and CICS. The Unix world hasn't proven at all yet whether it can handle high-volume, fast-response-time transaction and batch-based applications.

Apart from the massive conversion costs, there are considerable high-risk technology issues as well. It's worse than suggesting Windows 2000 servers can replace high-end Solaris servers!

Sounds like hardware "speeds and feeds" people haven't spoken to the software people. The way Sun has presented the issue is embarrassing, as it shows ignorance of mainframe environment and the business issues involved. I like Sun's gear and architectures, but it just shows, as with many tech companies these days, that it hasn't done its fundamental market and business research on this.

—Steve Moskal
Sydney, Australia

Where's the iSeries?
I've been reading articles all over the place about companies consolidating all of their systems to the iSeries. The iSeries is one of the most reliable, stable, dependable and most technologically advanced systems available. I find it interesting that no mention was even made in your article ["Top 100 Power Picks," July 2002] about the iSeries. Do you have any information on the number of iSeries systems that have Windows, Unix, Linux, SAP, JD Edwards, Seibel, BPCS, MoveX, and Fiserv installed?

—Ken Krouse
AS/400 Applications Management Team
Kansas City, Mo.

Storing and Retrieving
In Jon Toigo's July column about the best and worst of storage ["And the Winner is … the Best and Worst in Storage,"] I don't see any concern about the speed with which the devices store or retrieve data, or on the volume of data that they can store or retrieve.

I was particularly concerned when he chose the Maxtor MaxAttach over IBM, EMC and Hitachi. Maybe the Maxtor machine can store 1.9TB of data for $30,000, but how many concurrent requests can it handle and how quickly can it satisfy them?

Without that kind of data, this article only provides incomplete information to confuse a casual reader.

—Joe Busa

SNIA's Role in the Storage Market
As an early member, I've watched the evolutions at SNIA [Storage Networking Industry Association] for some time. SNIA's primary function has been as a forum for new storage wanna-bes to air their views, with a thread of domination by the Big Three. EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and IBM are the gorillas of storage, and a potential customer or partner on many of the products. Breaking the mold will occur only if storage is restructured substantially.

The good news is that we are about to see storage move into a major evolution. The advent of very inexpensive, but functionally substantial, S-ATA RAID and NAS will "mainframe" the Big Three in the same way that PCs took the high ground. It'll take a while, but the key players will be different. This will make SNIA a valuable forum, assuming that the newbies recognize the value they can generate by interoperability and standardization.

One characteristic SNIA will have to address is the ownership of initiatives. The mainframe storage companies still, naturally, tend to set direction too much, and this will need to change if the new companies want the vehicle they need to create substantial industry growth. The good and bad news is that the new players who expected 2002 to be a gold rush, and who would have set the trends of direction, are at best struggling to survive (I know this well, I led one of the afflicted). Storage in 2002 looks a bit like a Monarch butterfly migration that ran into a severe frost! The survivors, and the fresh startups, will find little competition in their niches. The question is: "Can SNIA evolve properly and become relevant in these tough times?"

—Jim O'Reilly
President, Orion Consultants

I agree with Jim that SNIA has been a bit like the United Nations with a General Assembly of smaller countries and a dominating Security Council comprised mainly of First World countries guiding the actual work of the organization.

I further agree that the inevitable march toward commodity, low-cost storage platforms will help level the playing field, which is currently dominated by "brand name" vendors of expensive, proprietary products.

And, yes, SNIA is positioned to help ease the transition to commodity storage through the articulation of standards and the verification of solution interoperability.

However, I'm not blind to the reality that the big players will do just about anything they can to obfuscate standardization and commoditization of their offerings. To paraphrase the poet, they will not go quietly into the night.

In the final analysis, it's informed consumers—not the industry and not SNIA—that will need to vote with their collective checkbooks for standards-based, next-generation storage to appear. Developing a knowledgeable consumer base is one of the goals of my columns for Enterprise Systems.

—Jon William Toigo

Déjà Vu
[Re: July 18 edition of the Enterprise Strategies newsletter, "IBM Cites Mainframe Growth in Quarterly Report."] IBM is measuring in MIPS rather than revenue? Sounds like another Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing, et al. to me.

—George Baldonado
President & CEO,
Oasis Technology Inc.
Camarillo, CA

Editor's Note: In the July issue's "Top 100 Power Picks" article, we incorrectly implied that Dave Winer, CEO of UserLand Software Inc., has been a Microsoft Corp. employee. Winer worked with Microsoft to develop the SOAP protocol, as we correctly stated, but has never worked for Microsoft.