Google Cloud buys Cornerstone, wants you to swap big iron for Chrome

Google Cloud

Google Cloud has swung its searchlight on the venerable mainframe, acquiring veteran Dutch firm Cornerstone Technology as part of an effort to unclench corporate fingers from their beloved big iron.

Google said its aim with the deal was “to better help customers migrate their mainframe workloads to Google Cloud.” The buy will  “form the “cornerstone” of our mainframe-to-GCP solutions, and customers are able to take advantage of these new capabilities now through our Professional Services Organization and our partner network.”

While Google, and rivals such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS, have been banging the drum for cloud for years, large swathes of the corporate world have yet to fully embrace 1990s computing, and remain wedded to those systems dubbed “big iron”.

Why would they do this? Well, mainframes are still considered phenomenally reliable, which is why they remain at the core of systems of record, underpinning financial and credit transactions.


However, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to new methods of development, such as, say DevOps or containerisation. 

Or as Google puts it, “As the industry increasingly builds applications as a set of services, many customers want to break their mainframe monolith programs into either Java monoliths or Java microservices. This approach to application modernization is at the heart of the Cornerstone toolset.”

There is also genuine concern that the pool of programmers who really know these systems is shrinking due to, er, natural wastage.

Google reckons Cornerstone’s tools – and services nous – “can break down your Cobol, PL/1, or Assembler programs into services and then make them cloud native, such as within a managed, containerized environment.”

It seems having migration in your company description is a sure fire way to get Google reaching into its pockets. The company acquired data migration specialist Alooma a year ago, and swallowed Velostrata in 2018.

Of course there’s more than one way to skin a cat. IBM – the original mainframe company – is working hard to enable mainframe owners to keep their enormous systems AND bring their developers blinking into the modern world. It recently announced that Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform is now available for its Z and LinuxOne platforms

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