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Startup Makes Mainframe Play

Rumors of the mainframes demise may be premature. Just days after IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) announced a major overhaul of its zSeries technology, stealth mode startup Platform Solutions Inc. (PSI) has revealed its plans for a new “open mainframe.”

For years, detractors have been attempting to bury the mainframe, which is regarded in some quarters as out-dated and decidedly uncool (even by data center standards). (See Mainframe Skills Shortage Looms and IBM Celebrates a Birthday.)

But this week, after three years in the development lab, and $1.2 billion worth of R&D, IBM announced its new high-end mainframe and virtualization technology, linking the device with other pieces of data center hardware (see IBM Unveils z9 Mainframe and IBM's Got Virtual Vision). And PSI attempted to go one better.

Whereas IBM’s z9 runs various flavors of the z/OS operating system and Linux, PSI CEO Michael Maulick says his system will offer Linux and z/OS, plus Windows and Unix. The startup has also developed specialized mainframe virtualization software, he adds.

The as-yet unnamed PSI device will be based on Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) Itanium processors and will be the size of “a large refrigerator,” says Maulick. Yet the mainframe “uses no more power and cooling than an HP Superdome," he claims, referring to the high-end Unix server from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).

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