Forget the cloud, get a mainframe

While the cloud has become a buzz word in the IT industry, one large retailer is passing on it in favour of some Big Iron.

Tasmanian retailer Coogans said it is ignoring cloud technology and is upgrading its Unisys mainframe systems for its mission-critical applications and online infrastructure.

To understand how unusual this is, you have to realise that Australia never really had the mainframe bug and there are only about six organisations in Australia to use Unisys’ mainframe systems.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Coogans has been a loyal client of the Unisys and its predecessor, Burroughs, since before 1965, and this new fangled cloud tech just does not cut the mustard.

It just took a weekend for Coogans to set up one mainframe, the latest Unisys Libra 460s, at each of its Hobart and Moonah locations in Tasmania and migrate its real-time custom production application, called Coogans Online Stock, Financial And Rental System, which was written in 1992 and is the centrepiece of the retailer’s IT architecture.

As for the merits of cloud-based redundancy, IT manager Peter Jandera said that if there was a disastrous crash of the company production machine, the outfit could switch to a disaster recovery environment. Both systems are separate and there is also an offline backup of the entire environment.

Coogans has its production mainframe at its Moonah store and a hot disaster recovery machine 10 kilometres away at its Hobart office, linked by a wireless wide area network with connectivity redundancy provided by a virtual private network (VPN) link over the internet.

Jandera said that cloud was unsuitable to his business. He said that no one guarantees the last mile and there were real dangers because the cloud means that you do not necessarily know where the data is going.

He said that all it would take is a person with a space to cut through a cable and the company is stuffed. Jandera said that the company ran a real time system and it needed it for every minute of the working day.