Trend Around Consolidation
The zEnterprise extends end-to-end systems management capabilities where the mainframe is part of systems consolidation, Adkins added. Indeed, consolidation is one of the major trends Adkins said IBM is seeing among its customer base. "We're seeing a trend around consolidation where clients are installing bigger systems," he said.While Adkins said the idea for the architecture in the zEnterprise-which brings the mainframe and Power systems together-goes back three to five years, IBM is already looking ahead to future generations of the mainframe. For long-term planning, "We have a global technology outlook that we work with our colleagues in Research on," Adkins said. "And we define a product offering road map to support our growth objectives." Adkins said IBM has 10-year outlooks that look well beyond what is deliverable in the short term, but also a product road map that looks out over the next five years. And IBM Chairman, CEO and President Sam Palmisano has established some key areas for IBM to focus on in its road map to 2015, including analytics, cloud computing, growth markets and IBM's Smarter Planet strategy, which includes delivering smarter infrastructure and smart solutions for clients in enterprises and governments throughout the world. The mainframe can play a role in each of these scenarios and fits in the class of computing to address workload categories such as database and transaction processing, analytics and high-performance computing, business applications, and collaboration, Adkins said. However, as each application might require different system demands and different configurations, IBM will continue to offer a mainframe, Unix-based systems and x86 industry standards-based technology, Adkins said. As time goes on, "the mainframe will continue to play the role it plays today-it has constantly evolved to be relevant," Adkins said, noting that customers will continue to look to the mainframe as a safe, reliable security-blanket type of system that handles mission-critical workloads. And IBM will continue to make it relevant by adding accelerator technologies like it did over the years to better support Linux and Java and databases, among other technologies. For the mainframe of the future, look for more of the same, Adkins said. He said there will be "a better infrastructure for data flight and data performance" where data is better co-located and there is enhanced security in the more tightly coupled systems. "The mainframe will also be central in a cloud environment," Adkins said. "As the industry gets the definition right around cloud-which is basically delivering computing as a service-I think the mainframe is one of the best platforms architected for that purpose. For security and multitenancy, the mainframe has all the characteristics required." Adkins noted the role of IBM Research, and he linked IBM's $6 million annual R&D spend as a differentiating factor for IBM systems. A dramatic illustration of that is IBM's Watson supercomputer, which has been trained to play the game Jeopardy! Watson is powered by 10 commercially available IBM Power7 systems. Watson is emblematic of a new era of smarter computing workloads, running IBM DeepQA software developed by IBM Research on a Power7 processor-based workload-optimized system. And it demonstrates how IBM is tackling new types of business models as systems manage data in new ways.
Adkins also said IBM is seeing a trend around the growth of data, which calls for better data and information management, and also increasing trends around integration of systems and processes. The mainframe, he said, can play a role in addressing all of these trends.