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IBM announces major mainframe advancement

New IBM zEnterprise System will integrate mainframe with Power7 and System x servers in one virtualized system

IBM says the zEnterprise system is the most important mainframe development in decades.
IBM says the zEnterprise system is the most important mainframe development in decades.
The zEnterprise system will provide mainframe levels of performance with a compelling TCO, says Cooper.
The zEnterprise system will provide mainframe levels of performance with a compelling TCO, says Cooper.

IBM today revealed new mainframe systems technology, which it says is one of the most important developments in mainframe technology in decades.

The new IBM zEnterprise System includes a new core mainframe, and IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension and the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager, which allow workloads on mainframe, Power7 and System x servers to share resources and be managed as a single, virtualized system.

IBM says it has spent $1.5 billion and three years of collaboration in developing the systems, which are intended to address problems of disparate, silo-based computing environments and the associated cost and complexity of those, while bringing mainframe levels of security, resilience and high availability to processing.

The Unified Resource Manager firmware-software is central to integrating multiple platforms as a single virtualized system, with unified management across all systems.

Unified Resource Manager will also allow better reporting and analysis across unified systems, performing functions such as complex database queries up to ten times faster.

IBM reports that the system can manage up to 100,000 virtualized servers as a single system, resulting in up to 40% lower acquisition costs 55% lower TCO.

The new mainframe offering, the zEnterprise 196, is IBM's most powerful mainframe ever, with 96 45nm microprocessors running at 5.2Ghz, capable of executing more than 50 billion instructions per second. The system offers a 60% improvement in data intensive and Java workloads, with 60% more capacity than the predecessor z10, but with the same power and physical footprint.

The z196 can be configured to include up to 80 specialty engines to further reduce costs and increase performance including the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) for integrating Java workloads with core business applications, the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) designed to help free-up computing capacity and lower IT costs, and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) to optimize Linux workloads running on the mainframe. On a System z running Linux, IBM says that a single virtualized server can be created and deployed for less than $1 per day

The mainframe is available with a water cooling option which can reduce energy use by up to 12%, and which also requires 20% less system air flow in a typical data centre, while removing more than 70% of the system air heat load.

The IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension supports purpose IBM Power7 and System x BladeCenter systems as well as blades optimized for specific workloads, such as analytics and managing Web infrastructure, and will be extended to Power7 blades running AIX and System x blades running Linux by next year

Dr Chris Cooper, Mainframe Platform Leader - Emerging Markets, IBM told itp.net: "This is not a straightforward technology refresh, this really is a turning point. We have taken the business challenges faced in many industries today, looked at the challenges the CIOs are facing - server virtualization, server consolidation, cost cutting, application integration - and we have invested a considerable amount of money in research and development around how we address these challenges. It really is trying to look at how we integrate and simplify the architectures out there to bring business value to a multitude of industries.

"It is a change in direction of the overall architecture and what we can now address with the value here. Everyone is talking about integration, virtualisation. What we are looking at here is addressing the business needs and business challenges, and what is the value in the mainframe today The value in the mainframe is around security, fast provisioning, total cost of ownership. By working with the ISVs in particular, to consolidate workloads, rationalise them and virtualize them. Part of this is attracting new workloads to the mainframe, which considerably improves the total cost of ownership," Cooper added.

"The new IBM zEnterprise System represents a bold move to fundamentally change how data centers are managed," said Tom Rosamilia, General Manager, IBM Power and z Systems.  "The new mainframe is the fastest enterprise server in the world and represents a giant leap forward in performance.   This new dimension in enterprise computing-- extending mainframe governance to POWER7 and System x blades integrated into the zEnterprise System architecture--was developed over the past three years with direct involvement from a team of IBM's 30 top customers, which provided direct input at every stage of the development process."  

The zEnterprise solutions will have general availability September this year.