So I followed up with some z9 series competitive analysis and found some practical, convincing customer testimonials. Allow me to summarize one: Jim Marshall (U.S. Air Force, retired) describes running two production applications on 45 virtual servers across three logical partitions. The applications were secured behind two firewalls and an authentication system. He priced this setup on both a z900 with one additional IFL and Intel x86 machines. The z900 with one IFL running Suse Linux, Novell e-Maintenance, and IBM 24/7 support cost $240,000. At $2,000 per server, the Intel machines, switches, firewalls, and zero support cost $840,000 -- 71.5 percent savings sounds pretty good to me.
Jim added that his Intel estimate would likely balloon to a million with support and software upgrades, while his z900 with 24/7 support "is not even breathing hard yet." That last offhand comment is actually an excellent point. The z10 series is getting up to 10 times the performance on floating point and Java workloads versus the z9. The z10's processors can run at 95 percent capacity, whereas x86 typically runs at 10 percent -- maybe 30 percent if fully virtualized. That's three times more capacity, even before we add virtualization to the z10.
All that tells me that your datacenter doesn't even need to be very large before you can start seriously thinking about a mainframe. I'm guessing your age will dictate whether you think I've just gone out on a limb or told you something you already know. If you cut your teeth on a mainframe, you know I'm right. If you've never touched a mainframe, you'll think this is crazy talk. If you still think the Internet is the cloud, take a second to recall that the very first Web server running anywhere outside of CERN in Switzerland ran on an IBM mainframe on the Stanford University campus in California. Maybe we had it right the first time. The cloud migrating toward mainframes just makes sense.