IBM, Unisys Rev Mainframes

Servers getting on-demand features.

Out to prove that massive mainframes are more than legacy machines, IBM and Unisys Corp. are putting on-demand and other features into their most powerful servers.

IBM last week launched the eServer z990—code-named T-Rex—which includes On/Off Capacity on Demand and the Intelligent Resource Director. The On/Off feature enables users to dial up or tone down processing power as needed and pay only for whats used. Its a key part of the Armonk, N.Y., companys on-demand computing initiative and is being offered in IBMs Unix-based pSeries servers.

The Intelligent Resource Director feature balances workloads dynamically according to priorities set by the customer. The z990 also includes a fourfold increase in memory and I/O and networking bandwidth over the companys largest current mainframe, the z900, IBM officials said.

The z990, which will be available next month after four years and $1 billion of development, will be upgraded over the next year, growing from the current 32 processors to 64 chips by next year and from 15 partitions in the z/OS operating system to 60. The z900 is a 16-way system.

Other features include support for business integration and Web services through WebSphere Version 5 for z/OS environments, as well as DB2 capabilities for supporting applications from Siebel Systems Inc., SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc. A new release of the z/VM operating system enables users to create and manage hundreds of Linux virtual servers in one box, a feature intended to attract businesses looking to consolidate computing resources.

One of the first companies to use T-Rex will be IBM Global Services, which will incorporate the systems into its new data center in Boulder, Colo. Two z990 systems will be able to process up to 450 million e-business transactions a day when the center opens next month. "Theyll move me onto the new 990, but I wont see that," Paul Mercurio, CIO at The Mobil Travel Guide, in Park Ridge, Ill., said during an IBM event here. "This makes my life easier because Im not focused on that. I can focus on my business."

The Mobil Travel Guide chose to work with IBMs on-demand data centers rather than invest in equipment and talent to run the online service itself. "I was able to maintain my capital, contain operating costs and, after the summer travel peak, I can turn capacity off," Mercurio said.

Unisys, of Blue Bell, Pa., this week is offering a line of ClearPath Plus mainframes, called the Dorado family, which officials said illustrate the "modern mainframe," big iron that can support such newer technologies as Web services. Unisys has built capacity on-demand capabilities into the servers, as well as the ability to shift or boost performance on the fly, officials said.

Unisys is launching the Dorado 110, which will support up to two OS 2200 processors and up to eight Intel Corp. Xeon MP processors. Model 140, which will replace Unisys CS7402 midrange mainframe, will scale from eight to 16 OS 2200 chips and support up to 24 Xeons. Model 180, replacing the CS7802, will scale to 32 OS 2200 chips and up to 24 Xeons. The servers are available now.