IBM's New 'Entry-Level' Mainframe Targets Midsize IT Shops

 
 
By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-07-12
 
 
 

IBM's New 'Entry-Level' Mainframe Targets Midsize IT Shops


A year after rolling out its breakthrough zEnterprise mainframe system, IBM has announced a new "entry-level" mainframe server to extend mainframe qualities and capabilities to more organizations, especially companies and governments in emerging markets in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.

In addition to the new mainframe, IBM also announced support for System x blades within the zEnterprise System running Linux. The company also said support for Windows will come later in the year.

The new system, the IBM zEnterprise 114-a  version of the IBM zEnterprise System the company says is the most scalable mainframe ever-follows the introduction of the zEnterprise System for the world's largest banks, insurance companies and governments in July of last year. The new server-which allows mid-size organizations to enjoy the benefits of a mainframe as the foundation of their data centers-costs 25 percent less and offers up to 25 percent more performance than its predecessor, the System z10 BC server, IBM officials said.

Moreover, it is projected that clients can consolidate workloads from 40 x-86 processors running Oracle software on to a new z114 with just three processors running Linux. What's more, IBM claims, over a three year period, total costs for hardware, software and support on the new z114 can be up to 80 percent less than that of consolidated servers. Similar savings on floor space and energy are also possible, said David Gelardi, vice president of sales support and education for IBM's Systems and Technology Group, in an interview with eWEEK.

"We're seeing great progress in the market with the mainframe, especially in emerging countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and South America," Gelardi said.

At a starting price of less than $75,000-IBM's lowest price ever for a mainframe server-the zEnterprise 114  is an especially attractive option for emerging markets experiencing rapid growth in new services for banking, retail, mobile devices, government services and other areas, Gelardi said. These organizations are faced with ever-increasing torrents of data and want smarter computing systems that help them operate efficiently, better understand customer behavior and needs, optimize decisions in real time, and reduce risk.  

"This is a business-class machine-a smaller version of the mainframe to attract clients who require a mainframe but have somewhat smaller needs" than the largest enterprise organizations, Gelardi said.

IBM also introduced new features that allow the zEnterprise System to integrate with, and manage workloads on, additional platforms. This includes new support for select System x blades within the zEnterprise System. These select System x blades can run Linux x86 applications unchanged, and in the future will be able to run Windows applications. With these capabilities, the zEnterprise System, including the new z114, can help simplify data centers with its ability to manage workloads across mainframe, Power7 and System x servers as a single system. Using the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX), customers can also extend mainframe qualities, such as governance and manageability, to workloads running across multiple platforms, IBM officials said.

Gelardi said the resurgence IBM has witnessed with the mainframe comes not only from existing customers but also from new clients, who like the flexibility of the system. For instance, Gelardi said one client mentioned the advantages of the zEnterprise System's "multiple personality" capabilities.

Simplifying Data Center Management


 

Indeed, the ability to integrate and manage workload on select IBM System x servers running Linux as part of the zEnterprise System is a move that could further simplify data center management and reduce costs. This capability is delivered through the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager and zBX, which allows customers to integrate the management of zEnterprise System resources as a single system and extend mainframe qualities to workloads running on other select servers.

The zEnterprise System can now integrate and manage workloads running on tens of thousands of off-the-shelf applications on select general-purpose IBM Power7-based and System x blades as well as the IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer to analyze data faster at a lower cost-per-transaction and the IBM WebSphere DataPower XI50 for integrating Web-based workloads. Up to 112 blades can be integrated and managed as part of zBX. Different types of blades and optimizers can be mixed and matched within the same BladeCenter chassis.

IBM said the Linux capability will begin shipping in September, and support for Windows on System x blades will begin shipping in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"When you get into the different personalities, the Linux opportunity is massive," Gelardi said. Yet IBM also has seen considerable-if not equal-demand for Windows support on the zEnterprise system, he said.

With the z114, clients can start with smaller configurations and access additional capacity built into the server as needed without increasing the data-center footprint or systems-management complexity and cost, IBM said. The new z114 is also designed to consolidate workloads from hundreds of x86 servers.

The z114 is powered by up to 14 microprocessors, of which up to 10 can be configured as specialty engines, IBM officials said. These specialty engines, the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP), the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP), and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) are designed to integrate new Java, XML, and Linux applications and technologies with existing workloads, as well to optimize system resources and reduce costs on the mainframe.  For example, using a fully configured machine running Linux for System z, clients can create and maintain a Linux virtual server in the z114 for as little as $500 per year, IBM officials estimated.

Getting more specific on stats, the z114 offers up to an 18 percent performance improvement for processing traditional System z workloads over its predecessor, the z10 BC, and up to an additional 25 percent improvement for microprocessor intensive workloads using compiler enhancements.

In addition, the z114 runs all the latest zEnterprise operating systems, including the newly announced z/OS V 1.13. This new version delivers new software-deployment and disk-management capabilities. It also offers enhanced autonomics and early error-detection features, as well as the latest encryption and compliance features extending the mainframe's security capabilities. Meanwhile, additional compliance and encryption features, the result of a multiyear effort from IBM Research, further enhance security with cryptography built into the DNA of System, IBM said.

IBM System z servers are also making inroads in emerging markets like Africa. Governments and businesses in Cameroon,Senegal and Namibia have all recently purchased new IBM mainframe servers.

Meanwhile, IBM announced that IBM Global Financing offers attractive financing options for existing IBM clients looking to upgrade to a z114 as well as clients currently using select HP and Oracle servers. For current System z clients, IBM Global Financing (IGF) can buy back older systems for cash and upgrade customers to the z114 on a Fair Market Value (FMV) lease, which offers a predictable monthly payment. IGF will remove and recycle these older systems in compliance with environmental laws and regulations and pay clients the fair market value of HP and Oracle-Sun servers. IGF is also offering a six-month deferral of any hardware, software, services or any combination for clients who wish to upgrade now, but pay later.

IGF also is offering a  zero percent financing for 12 months on any IBM Software, including IBM middleware for the z114 such as Tivoli, WebSphere, Rational, Lotus and Analytics products, the company said.


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