IBM Touts z/OS SSL Performance

Some customers’ costs may drop up to 25 percent.

As expected, IBM Corp. on Monday officially announced release 1.4 (R4) of its z/OS mainframe operating environment.

Much has already been made about z/OS R4 and its potential impact on existing OS/390 shops, but in tandem with its new z/OS release, IBM disclosed several additional z/OS-related performance enhancements. Big Blue also took the wraps off a revised licensing arrangement for high-end customers that have multiple zSeries mainframes.

According to Mary Moore, zSeries and z/OS marketing manager with IBM, the z/OS R4 enhancements substantially augment its ability to quickly process Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) transactions. As a result, Moore contends, z/OS R4 can process SSL transactions up to 60 percent faster than z/OS 1.3.

“We’ve increased speed from 4,300 [transactions per second] to over 7,000. It’s [a result of] work that [IBM developers] did in the communications server component of z/OS,” she notes.

Moore says that SSL processing performance is an important concern in most enterprise environments. Because z/OS is far and away the industry leader in terms of SSL performance, she argues, it’s possible that customers could implement z800 or z900 mainframes specifically to support SSL transactions – particularly in large e-commerce sites.

“It is a critical element of deciding where to run or support the secure Web transactions, so this makes the z/OS zSeries platform industry-leading in the area of secure performance,” Moore says. “Particularly if it’s a large-scale, high-availability requirement, you get not only the performance, but you also get mainframe robustness for that part of your e-business infrastructure.”

John Phelps, vice president and research director of servers and storage with research firm Gartner Inc., notes that improved SSL processing is one of z/OS 1.4’s most notable performance-related enhancements.

“There are a lot of other things going on in this announcement, but the Secure Sockets Layer performance -- they’re now claiming more than 7,000 -- is something that will be important to some customers,” he comments.

IBM also plans to cut customers in large mainframe environments a licensing break of up to 25 percent below what the company now charges. The goal, Moore allows, is to encourage customers with multiple mainframes to add incremental workloads or consolidate existing workloads on the zSeries.

“This is for our very highest level customers who have combined multiple [zSeries] systems. We’re announcing new pricing slopes, new pricing levels for our high-end customers. We’re quoting up to 25 percent below the previous levels,” Moore explains.

Primarily as a result of workload consolidation efforts, Moore says, the pool of eligible high-end customers with multiple zSeries mainframes is growing. She cites an internal IBM study that finds that existing customers are adding new mainframe capacity. “We are doubling in size. Customers over 5,000 MIPs are doubling in size,” she says.

In tandem with z/OS R4, IBM introduced a Bi-Modal Migration Accommodation mode that’s intended to give customers time to test 31-bit applications on z/OS. Although IBM firmly fixed the period of this offering at six months, that hasn’t stopped some users from speculating that the company could extend that period.

“[It] might continue to exist for several years for existing customers as long as they have money to pay,” speculates an MVS systems programmer who currently works under contract with a large European banking conglomerate.

For her part, IBM’s Moore flatly states that her company will not extend the Bi-Modal Accommodation offering.

“It is very strongly fixed at six months. That is why we went through the expense to support this environment and made this investment. What we were doing this for was to give them the piece of mind so that they could temporarily fall back if they had to,” she says.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.