Public Cloud Infrastructure provides organisations with access to highly flexible, scalable and cost effective infrastructure for deploying their applications and is rapidly becoming the standard environment for deployment. Having worked with IBM mainframes since the late 1970s, one of my personal interests in the Cloud is in finding ways to harness the scalability to provide a Reliable, Available, Serviceable and Performant host for mainframe COBOL and PL/I applications. In simple terms that means providing the same quality of service as the mainframe for business critical applications using the Cloud.
Looking at the challenge, it soon becomes evident that to be able to use the power offered by the Cloud, it requires a system that has been designed to fully exploit the scalability of the platform to deliver the required solution. Micro Focus Enterprise Server has long been established as the market leader in mainframe replatform because of the high level of compatibility we deliver. So, to achieve our goal, we needed to find a way to combine our proven compatibility with the inherent scalability of the Cloud to deliver a solution capable of the dynamic processor allocation, data availability and system integrity mainframe customers demand.
With the introduction of the Performance and Availability Cluster (PAC) in 5.0 of Enterprise Server, Micro Focus enabled customers to use our highly compatible replatform capabilities combined with the Cloud to create a Reliable, Available and Performant alternative to the mainframe for their COBOL and PL/I applications capable of using the elasticity of the Cloud to dynamically allocate processing power. By adopting this deployment approach organisations can achieve the same quality of services as the mainframe for the applications so critical to their success using the cost efficient commodity hardware of the Cloud.
While the focus here is on the Cloud, it’s worth noting that Micro Focus have a long history of providing mainframe compatibility across major platforms with over 1,000 successful replatform projects. Using Enterprise Server customers can deploy using Containers as well as on premise Linux, UNIX or Windows Servers. And they can easily move between platforms or deploy using different platforms to address strategic changes or specialised local requirements.
The underlying principle here is that using the PAC customers can harness a scalable infrastructure consisting of multiple Physical or Virtual Machines (VM) or Containers to remove previous limitations in capacity and create a highly scalable deployment environment for their business systems.
Because the data accessed by the COBOL and PL/I applications is as critical to the business as the applications themselves, the PAC uses the Micro Focus Database File Handler (MFDBFH) to ensure the highly available and seamless sharing of mainframe data files across the PAC using the scalability inherent in modern relational databases. The implementation of MFDBFH is totally transparent to the application and requires NO application changes.
One of our established commitments to our customers is the support for multiple operating system platforms and databases. We have continued to invest in delivering on this promise in 7.0 and have extended our support by introducing Oracle for MFDBFH. With the introduction of Oracle we now support all the major database vendors Microsoft SQL Server, IBM Db2 and Oracle along with support for PostgreSQL the leading Open Source alternative. To further enhance the usability of the data we now provide a utility to generate Database Views for the hosted files so they can be used for applications that run outside of Enterprise Server.
Customers wanting the highest levels of data availability and integrity for their mainframe or migrated Db2 data can now achieve this using, for example, SQL Server Always On, Db2 pureScale or Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) to build a highly scalable zero downtime data server to support business operations using proven Industry Standard technologies. By supporting SQL Server, Db2, Oracle and PostgreSQL the Micro Focus ensures that the choice of data host can be made by the customer based on their existing skills base, preferences and strategy.
Fully exploiting the dynamic processor allocation of the Cloud and the data availability delivered by MFDBFH requires the ability to manage and synchronise the multiple regions within the PAC to ensure integrity ensuring that any changes in the system configuration or application are replicated between all members of the PAC. To support scalability, the current system and application status must be published to any new member that joins the PAC.
The ability to support the dynamic addition and removal of Regions the Enterprise Server PAC delivers the highly scalable and responsive infrastructure organisations supporting the addition of additional capacity during peak usage and the reducing capacity to optimise cost when customer demand is low.
The Scale Out Repository (SOR) is the mechanism that is used to achieve this synchronisation. When first released in 5.0, this was achieved using Redis to provide the underlying connectivity. With 7.0, we are introducing support for Oracle Coherence so that customers can choose between Coherence and Redis. This support is not available at GA but will be released in an early patch update to 7.0.
With applications deployed using multiple regions in a PAC and synchronised by the SOR, the impact of unplanned outages can be minimised and managed by removing Single Points of Failure i.e. VM, Operating System or Region failures and using the Automated Recovery available in the Cloud. The impact of planned outages can be managed by phasing the required changes across the members of the PAC ensuring that a continuous service is maintained.
Finally, through dynamic provisioning, applications replatformed to Enterprise Server can take advantage of the virtually unlimited processing capacity available in the Cloud to dynamically scale by adding VMs in response to unexpected changes in customer demand. And, once requirements return to normal, resources can be removed from the PAC to manage cost.
For customers who want to use the Public Cloud or Containers to create a Reliable, Available, Serviceable and Performant host for their mainframe applications, Enterprise Server provides the functionality required to fully exploit the capabilities these platforms deliver.