IBM: Why the Mainframe Will Never Die, Part I
In an interview with eWEEK, Anne Altman, general manager of the IBM System z Platform in IBM's Systems and Technology Group, explains why the IBM System z mainframe platform remains relevant today and has relevance well into the next decade as it supports new workloads, complements "greening" strategies, bolsters cloud computing models and supports a variety of development and programming technologies. In short, the mainframe continues to adapt to evolving IT environments.Anne Altman is general manager of the IBM System z Platform in IBM's Systems and Technology Group, responsible for all facets of IBM's mainframe server business. Before her current position, Altman was the managing director of IBM's federal government account -- IBM's largest integrated account -- where she led an organization of 5,000 IBMers providing IT and business process solutions to U.S. federal government clients. Altman joined IBM in 1981 as a systems engineer. Altman shared her views on the future of the mainframe with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft.
Q: How is the mainframe staying relevant in today's technology discussions?
Q: Why is a System z mainframe better than, say, a farm of x86 boxes? A: An IBM System z10 Enterprise Class mainframe has the equivalent capacity of nearly 1,500 x86 servers, with an 85 percent smaller footprint and up to 85 percent lower energy costs. An IBM System z10 Business Class server has the capacity of up to 232 x86 servers with an 83 percent smaller footprint and up to 93 percent lower energy costs. Given these capacity capabilities, System z has become an ideal platform for the consolidation of distributed workloads. This can dramatically reduce data center complexity, reduce systems management requirements and bring improved levels of availability, security and scalability to the application environment. Once running on System z, workloads can also enjoy the benefit of supporting future growth in a very cost effective fashion and very often within the same physical footprint. If you consider the reliability of System z, its ability to seamlessly scale and the wide variety of application environments supported, it becomes clear that System z is also the ideal platform to deploy application environments supporting emerging business models such as those based on cloud computing. Nothing beats the mainframe for heavy-duty transaction processing in financial services, retail, airline reservations, anything that requires the ability to securely manage hundreds of millions of concurrent transactions. How's this for robust? In 2007, benchmark tests with Bank of China confirmed a record 9,445 business transactions per second [tps] in real time based on more than 380 million accounts with three billion transaction histories. As for security, System z's security capabilities are extensive and layered. Every aspect of the system has security as a key design point. Our security support is highly integrated, from the hardware/firmware up, all the way to the application layer. In the future, the competitive edge will be given to businesses that implement an infrastructure that is both highly cost-efficient as well as dynamic. This infrastructure must be able to grow and respond to changing requirements quickly while providing the best business resilience. This is exactly what System z has been designed from the ground up to do. Click here to read the rest of this Q&A with IBM's Anne Altman.