Driving New Workloads to Mainframe
Clay Ryder, an analyst with Sageza Group, said IBM has done well in driving new workloads to the mainframe, pointing to the various specialty engines that make it easier to run Linux and Java workloads. However, for businesses, the issue usually is one of capacity. "It's like a railroad," Ryder said. "It's not particularly good to move a head of lettuce, but it's really good for moving 20 cars of lettuce."In addition, IBM's zReward program-patterned after a similar initiative around its Systems p servers-gives businesses more financial incentives to make the switch, Freund said. Under the new program, enterprises that buy or upgrade to a new z10 Enterprise Class or Business Class mainframe to workloads from HP and Sun systems earn points that can be applied to IBM's migration services. The program is similar to one announced in September 2008 that rewards IBM Power server users for migrating to the System z platform. The mainframe business has seen steady growth since the beginning of the decade. Last year, MIPS on System z Linux mainframes jumped 77 percent, with more than 1,300 mainframe customers using that platform. In their most recent report on the worldwide server market in the fourth quarter, IDC analysts said IBM's System z mainframes running the z/OS operating system-though revenues dropped 18.9 percent over the same period in 2008-outperformed the overall server market for the fifth straight year. IBM isn't the only one seeing the positive trend in mainframes. CA has been aggressive in recent months in upgrading its mainframe management software capabilities as part of its Mainframe 2.0 initiative, and Unisys May 26 introduced new Libra and Dorado mainframes in its ClearPath platform, as well as specialty engines for Linux and Java.
IBM officials say there are enough businesses out there looking for such capacity and the chance to move off Unix platforms and onto Linux on mainframes, and they're hoping to stoke that interest with the Server Consolidation and Migrations Services push.