Consolidation, Security Products Announced at System z Summit

Big Blue announces new consolidation and security products as part of its $100 million mainframe simplification and modernization effort

IBM Corp. recently concluded its System z Summit in New York, during which it announced several new consolidation and security offerings as part of its $100 million mainframe simplification and modernization effort.

Big Blue unwrapped its Tivoli zSecure V1.8.1 suite—modular solutions that help IT administer mainframe security servers, monitor threats, audit usage and configurations, and enforce policy compliance. In addition, IBM touted its new IT Value-Based Analytics (ITVBA)—a tool to improve cost transparency for companies consolidating distributed servers onto a single mainframe environment—and a range of enhancements to z/VM (which now supports ten times more virtualized memory and up to 256 GB of real memory).

Not bad for a sleepy summer analyst session. Industry watcher Charles King, a principal with consultancy Pund-IT, came away impressed.

“The new System z software offerings aim to press [the mainframe’s] success even further by increasingly simplifying complex IT security, management, and workload tasks, particularly around server consolidation and virtualization processes,” he says. “Do IBM’s claims make sense? Yes and no. On the plus side, we agree that the company’s mainframe platform is more flexible, robust, and secure than any competing platform. In terms of sheer scalability and manageability, IBM’s z/VM blows away competing virtualization solutions.”

King sees even more upside for medium- and large-sized enterprises. “For enterprises and mid-sized companies that wish to consolidate hundreds or even thousands of distributed servers and applications, IBM’s System z offers unmatched performance,” he indicates. “At the same time, the company’s new and improved software solutions seem likely to enhance both system manageability and mainframe user satisfaction. Overall … this strategy marks a significant step forward in IBM achieving its larger mainframe goals, and we expect to see additional software enhancements in future announcements.”

On the other hand, he says, Big Blue’s newest announcements probably won’t have much of an impact in small mainframe shops.

“At the same time, we do not believe that the mainframe is appropriate for every application or company, particularly the small organizations IBM says will benefit from its simplified offerings. While there are exceptions, … most small companies would likely find it difficult to justify the time and cost commitments necessary for a mainframe migration.

“In a sense, this quandary defines the often-vague border between innovative technology and intelligent business behavior. For the right situation and organization, IBM’s System z simply cannot be beat, but the mainframe is not a one-size-fits-all solution by any measure.”

About the Author

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