IBM Announces “Baby Z”

Smaller sibling for z900 mainframe

Yesterday, IBMCorp. announced it would deliver a smaller sibling to its flagship z900mainframe, the z800, which the company expects will attract new customers to the mainframe.

The z800, which isthe same machine used in IBM’s Linux-only offering, is geared toward today’snet-centric applications, rather than running legacy code. IBM offers it with astripped-down – and less expensive - version of z/OS called z/OS.e. z/OS.edpreserves the performance and fault-tolerance features of z/OS, while leavingolder technologies - such as COBOL and CICS - behind.

“Think of this asthe baby z,” says Terri Virnig, director of productmarketing and technical support for zSeries at IBM. Virnig says IBM positionsit as a midmarket offering for both new customers and existing mainframe shopsthat do not need all of the power of the z900.

IBM says the z800,in tandem with z/OS.e, is a good machine for running e-business software suchas IBM’s WebSphere, DB2, Java JDK, and MQSeries. These packages don’t need thelegacy support included in the full z/OS.

“This box goesbeyond the datacenter,” Virnig says. She believes that z/OS.e will help themainframe gain acceptance as a machine for J2EE application servers andmessaging servers. Since the hardware and operating system is less expensive,enterprises can more easily justify deploying the machines in other parts ofthe network infrastructure.

Like its bigbrother, z/OS.e allows dynamic partitioning and has the same support forHipersockets and Parallel Sysplex. Users can also run instances of both z/OS.eand Linux.

Customers thatneed support for legacy applications can also order a z800 with z/OS, OS/390,VM/ESA, and VSE/ESA.

Virnig believesthat, while some current mainframe customers will purchase z800 machines, mostof the interest will be with first-time mainframe customers. “Its primarily newcustomers who will deploy new workloads,” she says, noting IBM gained 75first-time mainframe customers last year.

Although it isdifficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between mainframe machines andUnix machines, enterprises considering Sun Microsystems Inc.’s “Midframe”servers may be interested in z800. “This is an alternative for them to lookat,” Virnig says.

Virnig believescurrent mainframe customers may be interested in z800 to complement theirexisting mainframe installations. In addition to applications servers, she saysthere has been interest in deploying a z800 to manage Parallel Sysplexclusters.

IBM expects the z800 to be generally available in late March.

About the Author

Chris McConnell is Product and Technology Editor for Enterprise Systems.