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IBM’s first cloudy mainframes scheduled to launch this week

It’s not IaaS, it's reserved for test and dev – and will feed the golden goose that is the z/OS ecosystem

IBM has quietly announced its first-ever cloudy mainframes will go live on June 30.

Big Blue in February disclosed its plans to provide cloud-hosted virtual machines running the z/OS that powers its mainframes. These would be first offered in a closed "experimental" beta under the IBM Wazi as-a-service brand. That announcement promised "on-demand access to z/OS, available as needed for development and test" with general availability expected "in 2H 2022."

The IT giant has now slipped out an advisory that reveals a “planned availability date” of June 30.

Sadly, you won’t be able to just jump onto IBM Cloud and whip up a virtual mainframe.

The advisory states the service is not visible in the IBM Cloud console until you’re an IBM client and even then you need to "use the IBM sales process to be allow-listed and to access the function."

Once you’re allowed in, the service offers the chance to create and run custom images of your on-prem mainframe.

Big Blue wants you to use the cloudy mainframes for test and development only. Which may sound counter-intuitive given that infrastructure as a service (IaaS) has become rather popular in recent years and IBM doesn’t offer that option for mainframes.

The focus on test and dev is IBM’s way of making it easier to develop applications for z/OS, either from scratch or as part of migration efforts. That matters because mainframes make an enormous contribution to IBM’s profits. Anything that encourages the development of more mainframe apps is therefore welcome at IBM, not least because mainframe pricing is often consumption-based, just like IaaS.

For now, z/OS VMs can be created in IBM Cloud's Japan (Tokyo), Brazil (São Paulo), Canada (Toronto), and United Kingdom (London) regions. IBM has posted educational resources and other info for the cloud-mainframe-curious here. ®

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