IBM Plans Aggressive Mainframe Software Rollouts

In its continuing push to expand the reach of its System z mainframes, IBM is planning to release enhancements to more than 30 mainframe-based software offerings in 2009. IBM already has released 12 of those upgrades. The move comes as vendors such as CA, BMC Software and Unisys expand their mainframe offerings and HP tries to lure IBM mainframe users to its own Intel-based ProLiant and Integrity systems.

IBM is planning to roll out about 30 enhancements to a variety of software offerings for its System z platform in 2009, the latest move to extend the reach of IBM's mainframe systems.

IBM already has launched the first 12 of the enhancements, touching on Rational development tools, InfoSphere and Cognos data management products, WebSphere transaction management offerings, and Tivoli IT services management software.

IBM officials for several years have touted a resurgence of the mainframe, pointing to the new workloads running on the platform and the growth not only of the MIPS that are shipping but also the increase in interest from ISVs. IBM said it estimates that over the past year, another 150 ISVs have turned to the System z platform, adding more than 1,000 applications that can run on the mainframes.

Analysts have said much of the credit for the mainframe revival can be attributed to specialty processor engines that IBM has built to make it easier to run such loads as Linux and Java on the System z platform.

Other vendors also are pushing the mainframe's growth. Software makers such as CA and BMC Software are adding more capabilities to their mainframe management software, and Unisys late in May launched new ClearPath mainframes and specialty engines.

IBM also has offered new services and financing plans in hopes of enticing businesses that use Unix-based systems from Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems to migrate to the System z platform, though HP officials have begun to fight back, attacking the mainframe for being less efficient and pricier than HP's own Intel-based Integrity and ProLiant server families.

In its latest rollout of new capabilities, IBM June 4 unveiled enhancements to Rational System Architect v11.3 and Rational Focal Point for Product and Portfolio Management v6.4, which are designed to improve IT budgeting and resource management through the use of strategy and IT blueprints.

Rational Developer for System z v7.6 integrates with other Rational System z tools and third-party software to help speed up the development of new workloads on the mainframe platform, lower training costs and reduce MIPS consumption. Rational Team Concert for System z v 2.0 is based on IBM's Jazz technology and integrates with Rational Developer for System z to better support the building of cross-platform applications.

WebSphere Business Events v6.2.1 for the z/OS operating system aims to make it easier for users to handle business events using CICS applications, and CICS Transaction Server v4.1 is designed to let users better handle regulatory compliance and changing demographics.

Enhancements to Tivoli products touch on Tivoli Omegamon monitoring software, Tivoli Security Management for z/OS, Tivoli Key Lifecycle Management for z/OS and Tivoli Workload Scheduler v8.5.