IBM Mainframes Give IT More Flexibility

IBM's newest zSeries mainframes enable businesses to have a combination of scale-up and scale-out systems.

IBM is linking its zSeries mainframe with its BladeCenter servers as a way of helping businesses simplify their IT infrastructure.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company on Tuesday rolled out new models of its z990 mainframes, with added features for greater Linux support and storage capabilities. IBM also is offering a rebate that can be used toward the purchase of other Big Blue products, including blade servers.

Having a combination of scale-up and scale-out systems is a way of creating a flexible and efficient IT infrastructure, said Peter McCaffrey, director of eServer zSeries product marketing for IBM.

"Its a question of what machine would work best [for a particular job]," McCaffrey said. "What you want is a combination of servers [so businesses can] deploy work to the servers that can run it the best, that can run it most efficiently."

At the end of the month, IBM will start shipping two new models of its z990 mainframe—code-named T. Rex—that was first introduced in May with eight- and 16-processor versions. The new versions will be the 24-way Model C and 32-way Model D.

In addition, new features will include on/off capacity on-demand capabilities for IBMs Integrated Facility for Linux engines, Linux-only processors that can run on IBMs zSeries mainframes. In addition, IBM is expanding its Parallel Sysplex capabilities to enable businesses to cluster up to 32 mainframes together and extending the reach from 40 km to 100 km. That will be important for businesses that want to put their systems in multiple sites for business continuance reasons, McCaffrey said.

The mainframes also can now be directly attached to open storage devices, rather than being restricted to mainframe-attached storage products, he said.

"You can better leverage your existing storage investment as you move forward in consolidating on mainframes," McCaffrey said.

In addition, businesses that buy a z990 are eligible for up to $250,000 in rebates that can be used to buy other IBM offerings, including its BladeCenter blade servers, WebSphere middleware, storage devices and grid solutions. All those are key parts of IBMs initiative to help customers simplify the infrastructure, McCaffrey said.

A key part of that initiative is mixing the scale-out capabilities of blade servers with the scale-up features of larger systems, particularly mainframes. IBM recently announced its Mainframe Charter, which outlined investments the company will make in its zSeries systems.

With grid technologies and maturing management software, businesses can more easily move workloads between their scale-out and scale-up systems, and increase their utilization rates, McCaffrey said.

"There are problems with [a] scale-out only [environment]," he said. "Scale-out is not good at transaction-based or database-intensive workloads."

However, they do well in performing such tasks as Web serving.

McCaffrey said IBM also is putting more resources and people toward helping businesses design and deploy more efficient IT infrastructures. Key among that are IBM systems architects, a new position for experts who work with top customer accounts to create a new infrastructure.