What Can the Mainframe Learn from Distributed? Podcast interview with Ralph Crosby, chief technology officer for the Mainframe Service Management business unit at BMC Software, Inc.



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Historically, the mainframe IT model meant computers intended to help a business run were centralized and very expensive. In the 1980s, the availability of small, less expensive, and high-powered machines made the distributed model possible, and hundreds, or thousands, of distributed systems were installed in traditionally mainframe organizations. But, due to growth and complexity in databases today, instead of managing a single mainframe, IT organizations everywhere are managing hundreds at a time. In addition, the cost of the distributed platform has risen because the capabilities of these systems have increased, whereas the cost of the mainframe has decreased due to competitive pressures. What we're seeing today, says Ralph Crosby, chief technology officer for the Mainframe Service Management business unit at BMC Software, is some convergence in the mainframe and distributed world. And, that calls for a big step in the evolution of management tools.

In both the mainframe and the distributed world, databases have grown in size and scope, creating complex environments that are difficult to manage and even more difficult to react to quickly or proactively. Ralph believes that it is time for an inflection point for these unwieldy environments and that the future of relational databases lies in their simplification. Two significant trends he sees are support for XML and the freeform query. Both help make databases less complex and easier to manage. And, management is key because there is no end in sight to the exponential increase in transactions and objects. You must realize that the mainframe has some strengths, and the distributed system has others, and there are real benefits to putting parts of your applications in one or the other of these environments. To stay in business, you must have enterprise-wide tools that enable you to bridge the gap between your mainframe and distributed systems, connecting all of your platforms to provide a single, seamless view of your IT world.


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Ralph Crosby is the chief technology officer for the Mainframe Service Management Business Unit at BMC Software. As chief technology officer, Mr. Crosby is responsible for setting the strategic technology direction for the entire portfolio of IBM Mainframe products. He has been with BMC Software for 13 years, initially working with the DB2 product line. He has authored several products in the DB2 product line as well as worked as an architect in the storage management area. Immediately prior to assuming the chief technology officer position, Mr. Crosby held the position of DB2 architect responsible for technology directions across the full line of DB2 products. Prior to joining BMC Software, he worked as a database administrator, applications architect, and systems programmer in a variety of environments centered on the IBM mainframe, but including Windows and UNIX platforms. Mr. Crosby holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Computer Science from the California Polytechnic State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Fordham University.