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IBM Angles for More Mainframe Customers

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Oct 7, 2003


Systems vendors these days have been exploring a myriad of ways to help their customers raise return-on-investment while paring costs at a time when spending on systems has become nearly nil. IBM, Sun and HP have all been looking for ways to move beyond basic server consolidation to find valuable placement with their vital customers. IBM is looking to corral more customers in need of a powerful data center at a lower cost. It also introduces 24- and 32-way z990 mainframes.

Looking to go a step beyond traditional server consolidation to help its own share of customers, Armonk, N.Y.'s IBM Tuesday announced a promotion for its mainframe customers and rolled out the high-end, 24- and 32-way versions of its z990 machines, code-named T-Rex.

Peter McCaffrey, program director, IBM zSeries Product marketing, said customers that purchase a zSeries 990 mainframe server may procure a BladeCenter for an additional $250,000, or if the mainframe is a high-end model, they might even receive it free with the mainframe system. McCaffrey said IBM believes these department store-like bargains, good from now until the end of the year, will help IBM attract new customers.

McCaffrey told internetnews.com the new "Infrastructure Simplification" strategy collapses multiple tiers of computing systems such as servers, storage, and networking technologies into a more efficient system often using mainframe and blade technology.

Because most IT environments employ three to fours tiers of computing, with caching and security servers on the front end, application servers as a middle layer and transaction and data processing servers on the end, IBM feels this set-up is a bit cumbersome in its current incarnation. By merging computing layers into two hardware pieces, IBM believes customers save money because they buy less infrastructure and require less maintenance than a four-tier system.

Why the combination of mainframes and blade servers?

"These are the kinds of technology we see customers leverage as they look to simplify systems," McCAffrey explained. "The BladeCenter is easy to scale out. If you need more Web servers or firewalls, they immediately plug in. And the mainframe easily scales up to millions of transactions. By connecting both you get a great deal of flexibility and scalability. You can collapse different layers of servers, storage and networking into two centers of gravity."

While BladeCenter is being offered most prominently, McCaffrey added that the z990 on-demand promotion may include WebSphere software, storage and grid solutions.

IBM also made high-end versions of its z990 mainframe, announced back in May after four years of development and $1 billion in associated costs, ready for public consumption.

Specifically, IBM rolled out the 24-way z990 Model C and 32-way D machines, which were designed for a customer's heaviest transaction processing requirements. Rounding out the family, which already saw the 8-way Model A and 16-way Model B systems come to the fore, these systems are capable of providing more than 9000 MIPS (million of instructions per second).

The vendor also unveiled new features that extend support for Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP), networking functions, Linux on zSeries and LPAR, or logical partitioning capabilities, which can enhance the value of consolidation on the mainframe.

These include on/off capacity on demand for Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) engines on z990, which allows z990 customers running Linux on an to temporarily turn on additional IFL engine capacity for spikes in demand, enhanced FCP to zSeries for consolidation of Linux workloads and more Parallel Sysplex capabilities to link equipped data centers as far as 100 kilometers apart.

The zSeries On Demand Promotional Offering and eServer z990 are available now. New features on the z990 are expected to be available by October 31.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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