IBM Rolls Out Midsize Mainframe

The zSeries 890 promises twice the speed of the z800 mainframe and can be bought for less than $200,000.

Forty years after introducing its first mainframe server, IBM continues to polish the venerable computing platform with new systems and enhancements.

Big Blue this week rolled out a new midsize mainframe, the zSeries 890, that promises all of the scalability, flexibility and security that the mainframe has always offered. But the new box, which is based on IBMs hefty z990 mainframe, also promises twice the speed of the z800 mainframe in a smaller footprint and at a price much lower than that of the z990.

The new system can be bought for less than $200,000, said Joan Meltzer, director of zSeries at IBM of Armonk, N.Y.

"The z890 brings down some of the capabilities of the z990 [mainframe] to midsized customers," Meltzer said. "It provides automation, flexibility, scalability … in a package and price that fits their needs."

In addition to attracting new customers, IBM hopes the z890s smaller price tag will persuade current customers using older mainframes to upgrade sooner than they otherwise might have. The hope is that these customers will use z890 mainframes as building blocks to replace older systems incrementally.

IBM is counting on the mainframe for more than just maintenance revenue for legacy applications.

"More than 70 percent of our revenues come from new workloads" such as e-business and Linux applications and Web serving, Meltzer said.

IBM, for instance, is positioning a two-tiered, mainframe/blade server IT architecture as a cheaper and easier-to-manager alternative to three-tiered architectures that use Intel or Unix servers when provisioning for these new workloads.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about IBMs efforts to broaden its mainframes reach.

A key new capability in the z890, and added in the z990, is zAAP, zSeries Application Assist Processor. Like the Linux specialty engine for mainframes that IBM already offers, zAAP provides a Java execution environment that runs next to the CPU. This enables customers to integrate Web applications on the mainframe, thus consolidating more workload onto a single machine, officials said.

Other technologies in the z890 include an on/off capacity on demand for adding capacity on a temporary basis and an OSA Express Integrated Console Controller to eliminate the need for some peripherals and networking enhancements.

Along with the z890, IBM also rolled out the new Enterprise Storage Server 750, part of its "Shark" family of disk arrays. Like the z890, the ESS 750 has an on/off capacity feature. The Shark also adds 20 new autonomic features to improve administrator productivity and a new capability for handling more I/Os in parallel.

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