dcsimg

Hardware Today: IBM Server Snapshot Page 2

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Sep 27, 2005


The Mainframe — Alive and Well

IBM recently released what it is describing as its most sophisticated computing system ever — the IBM System z9 mainframe. According to Colette Martin, director of market management for the IBM System z9, it is the result of a three-year, $1.2 billion development effort involving 5,000 IBM engineers, software developers, and security experts from around the world.

"The z9 more than doubles the capabilities of its predecessor, the z990. This new mainframe is capable of performing 1 billion transactions a day, provides on/off capacity on demand, scales up to 54-way, and has advanced resource virtualization and workload management capabilities." — Colette Martin, director of market management for the IBM System z9

"The z9 more than doubles the capabilities of its predecessor, the z990," says Martin. "This new mainframe is capable of performing 1 billion transactions a day, provides on/off capacity on demand, scales up to 54-way, and has advanced resource virtualization and workload management capabilities."

Security was clearly a major focus in the design. As a result, the z9 comes with an impressive array of high-end security features. Master encryption keys, for example, are stored in a tamper-resistant package that zeroes out data to prevent an intruder from physically capturing it. Centralized key management in the z/OS allows consistent security policies to be set across server, data, and the network according to business goals. Other security features secure data being transported to alternate locations, speed up online transactions while keeping them totally secure, provide easy-to-deploy Internet security for mainframe workloads, and offer network-based security in conjunction with Cisco.

x-Rated Servers

At the opposite end of the scale, IBM has been investing plenty of R&D dollars in xSeries and blade servers. Last week's Hardware Today, "Dueling Blades," looked at the latest BladeCenter offerings.

On the xSeries front, the company recently released the eServer X3 architecture. Tim Dougherty, director of IBM eServer BladeCenter marketing, says this represents the culmination of a three- year, $100 million development effort to bring mainframe-inspired capabilities and high-end technology to 64-bit Intel Xeon-based servers. According to his numbers, this new architecture provides up to 46 percent higher 4-way performance compared to IBM's previous generation of Xeon-based systems. It also enables the simultaneous running of 32-bit and 64-bit applications and the rapid processing of massive amounts of data. X3-based systems can run 64-bit x86 operating system software from Microsoft, Red Hat, and Novell.

"X3 is optimized for superior server consolidation and enterprise application software, and it uses IBM Virtualization Engine technology to enhance virtualization capabilities," says Dougherty.

IBM has also gotten into the dual-core game. The xSeries 366 is the first dual-core-capable Intel-based server from Big Blue. Based on the X3 architecture, the x366 is positioned primarily for midtier business logic applications (like SAP, Oracle, and Siebel) using 64-bit memory addressing.

For users with always-on environments, IBM has released the xSeries 460. The entry-level 4-way machine scales up to 32-way, processing in an eight-chassis configuration. Upgrading from a smaller to larger x460 server, says Dougherty, has been made easy.

The x460 is the second server based on the X3 architecture, and it is 60 percent faster than its predecessor. This Xeon MP system is meant to be used mainly for database serving, ERP, CRM, server consolidation, and vertical market custom applications. It is priced from $18,129, although a typical 8-way model costs more than $72,182.

There is also the newly released x260, a high-performance 7U server aimed at storage-intensive applications (also based on the X3 Architecture). The dual-core-capable x260 relies on 64-bit Intel Xeon MP processors and is available in a tower configuration. The entry price of the xSeries 260 is $4,599.

IBM has made several strategic moves that may further consolidate its grip at the top of the server charts. The company is offering financial incentives of up to $50,000 to partners developing software applications and tools for its iSeries platform.

"The x260 can run on standard 110 volt power in a fully redundant configuration, making it suitable for office environments," says Dougherty. "It has expandable processing power, memory, and storage capacity that is often required for e-mail and database serving applications."

The last major release in the IBM xSeries portfolio is Cluster 1350, the first cluster to incorporate AMD dual-core technology in a blade-based compute node. It also uses Intel- and POWER-based nodes in homogeneous or mixed node arrangements. IBM is clearly planning to use this product to strengthen its position at the head of the blade market.

"In standard cluster configurations, the Cluster 1350 supports more compute nodes than any of its competitors and double that of HP," says Dougherty. It offers the broadest range of node and switch choices in a clustered solution from a major vendor."

Strategic Moves

IBM has made several strategic moves that may further consolidate its grip at the top of the server charts. The company is offering financial incentives of up to $50,000 to partners developing software applications and tools for its iSeries platform.

Big Blue hopes to entice more than 2,500 software developers with: 1) an Application Innovation Program that provides support (this includes a no-charge virtual loaner program, Solution Factory assistance, and education) at no charge to ISVs to help strengthen their iSeries on-demand capabilities; 2) a Tools Innovation Program, which is part of its iSeries Developers Roadmap that gives ISVs and customers additional flexibility with their application choices in Java, RPG, COBOL, and .NET integration on i5/OS, Linux, AIX and Windows; and 3) an iSeries Innovation Program to increase access to IBM technical talent in Rochester to work collaboratively with ISVs and other partners to develop more tightly integrated products for banking, wholesale, retail, manufacturing, and other industries. To date, these programs have produced nearly 180 new applications and about 160 tools for the iSeries platform.

Keeping with the collaboration theme, another core strategic element is IBM's Systems Agenda.

"Companies that were once isolated by disparate technologies increasingly need to collaborate in order to create more on demand operations," says Martin. "This requires that each firm's computing systems be linked more intelligently via collaborative processing."

Systems Agenda involves the use of technologies like virtualization, open standards, and encryption to share information across enterprises. Whether it's designing automobiles and aircraft or discovering new medicines, collaboration between companies and institutions has begun to blur the traditional lines of information technology. IBM's goal is to develop ways to enable such companies to work seamlessly on business applications that transcend corporate boundaries.

"Selected core design principles within the Systems Agenda will accelerate the move toward collaborative processing while continuing to provide the highest levels of transaction processing," says Martin. "This will help our clients to extend virtualization throughout the infrastructure to help define and discover relationships between users, resources, applications, and networks — a key ingredient for collaborative processing."

Page 2 of 2


Comment and Contribute

Your name/nickname

Your email

(Maximum characters: 1200). You have characters left.