IBM Cloud to offer Z-series mainframes for first time – albeit for test and dev

z/OS VMs coming sometime in the second half of 2022

As IBM tries to address allegations it discriminated against older staff, the IT giant has for the first time brought its oldest computing platform – the mainframe – into the age of infrastructure-as-a-service.

The 111-year-old tech institution today announced it will offer the Z mainframe platform on the IBM Cloud, by offering virtual machines running z/OS as-a-service.

These VMs are intended for mainframe test and development environments, rather than have Big Blue care for and feed virtual production mainframes in the cloud for you. The service will be tied to Wazi – an IBM development environment for mainframe applications.

Test and dev was one of the first workloads suggested as an ideal candidate to run in the cloud. Before elastic infrastructure-as-a-service, organizations often found themselves building and operating replicas of their production stacks for their developers. Renting such environments as and when needed in the cloud was often – and often remains – cheaper than owning and operating the necessary infrastructure.

Mainframes remain a very high-margin and profitable mainstay for the centenarian corporation, so Big Blue is seldom short of a new idea or product to promote or ease their use.

This infrastructure-as-a-service offering is therefore pitched as a way to reduce the time and resources required to develop mainframe applications.

IBM said the new offering is currently a "closed experimental" technology – we think that means closed beta. It's certainly not mentioned in the catalog of the IBM Cloud account your correspondent maintains, so information on cost or specs is not available at the time of writing.

The service will become generally available in the second half of 2022 – after IBM's 112th birthday. ®

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