This trend toward openness, standardization, and flexibility isn’t limited to software. As Sun Microsystems can testify, customers are turning away from large, high-powered single machines in favor of scalable clusters of commodity, Intel-powered 1U and blade servers. Google is perhaps the greatest example of this new kind of architecture, boasting a datacenter composed of tens of thousands of PC-based servers coupled with fault-tolerant software.
True, IBM still sells mainframes; but its sales pitch has changed considerably since the 1970s. These days, IBM zSeries boxes run Linux in addition to z/OS, and mainframe processor units are billed as a way to quickly deploy virtual servers in a clusterlike configuration, using IBM’s z/VM virtualization software.
From the datacenter to the desktop, scalability, flexibility, openness, and standardization have become the watchwords of the new IT. The message for vendors: Watch out. If your products aren’t competitive, it may well be you who ends up getting fired.