IBM Rolls Out WebSphere for Mainframes

IBM announced a version of its WebSphere app server optimized for the company's zSeries mainframe systems.

IBM Corp. Monday announced a version of its WebSphere application server optimized for the companys zSeries mainframe systems.

WebSphere Application Server for z/OS Version 5 will become available later this week and supports the major Web services and Java standards, including the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Description Language (WSDL), Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI), Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.3 and is J2EE 1.4-ready, the company said.

Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere Internet infrastructure software, said, "were providing a first-class application server, fully standards based, optimized for the platform and can take full advantage of the underlying OS."

Sutor said the z/OS operating system and the mainframe in general "continues to have terrific importance in the world, especially in the financial world." He said legacy CICS systems continue to support a majority of corporate and financial systems. "Many of the CICS systems are z/OS based," he said. "Those systems handle some 30 billion transactions a day."

And where IBM has developed a version of its application server optimized for its mainframe platform, Sutor noted that IBM application server archrival BEA Systems Inc. offers no special version of its application server for mainframes.

Meanwhile, IBM has introduced a new pricing plan that coincides with pricing for the IBM zSeries servers, where users pay based on the computing power of their machines rather than on a per processor basis.

IBM also has introduced an entry-level offering based on a minimum level of Value Units. Value Units are based on the Millions of Service Units (MSUs) capacity of zSeries servers. And WebSphere actually has an internal facility that indicates how many Value Units they need.

The entry-level system calls for 10 Value Units starting at $2,300 per unit. IBM also is offering volume discounts, the company said. Sutor said IBM offers similar pricing arrangements for its Host Integrator and MQ Series software.

IBM also announced several autonomic, or self-healing, and self management features, including clustering, workload management and security, a system to ensure delivery of expected levels of service, and internal protections to ensure that the remains intact.

As for WebSphere on zSeries, Stephen OGrady, an analyst with RedMonk LLC, a market research firm based in Hollis, N.H., said: "we think its a significant release first because there are a lot of larger enterprise customers with smaller boxes coming off lease looking to consolidate applications onto their Big Iron, and second because theres been a lot of work done around making the transition from smaller servers to the mainframe as simple as possible. The pricing, while a bit complicated for our tastes, is designed to mirror IBMs On Demand initiative and offers breaks to customers as they scale up. So they have some work yet to do in making the x86 to mainframe transition transparent, and certainly Big Iron isnt for everyone, but the transition process is getting easier and we expect customers to strongly consider the mainframe for Java-based applications in the future."

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