IBM Announces Next-Generation zSeries Mainframe

Big Blue claims new Z10 can double performance, increase data-center efficiency

As data center costs and complexity continue to increase, the mainframe continues to gain momentum. Today’s announcement from IBM reflects that trend, and shows that less is more. The new System z10 dramatically increases data center efficiency by improving performance, reducing power and cooling costs, and lowering floor space requirements.

The 64-processor mainframe uses Quad-Core technology and was built from the start to share workloads and share IT resources more efficiently, and the company says the new hardware improves performance over virtualized x86 servers. In addition to Linux, XML, Java, WebSphere, and increased workloads from SOA implementations, IBM says it is working with Sun Microsystems and Sine Nomine Associates to pilot the Open Solaris operating system on System z.

The System z10:

  • Is approximately equal to 1,500 x86 servers but uses up to 85 percent less energy and reduces floor space by up to 85 percent

  • Can consolidate x86 software licenses at up to a 30:1 ratio

  • Is 50 percent faster than z9, its predecessor, and offers 70 percent more capacity.

Members of SHARE Inc., an independent association of IT professionals who use enterprise-class IBM technology, seemed impressed. Among them was Skip Robinson, SHARE volunteer and a System z technology user, who points out that "to provide some perspective on the value of this new system, the high-end model of System z10 EC has more than 100,000 times the CPU processing power and 100 million times the memory of some of the earliest machines, with a fraction of the footprint and power consumption."

In a company statement, Big Blue says enterprises “are grappling with how to log, track, audit, and chargeback every business transaction. Their end objective is to move beyond basic virtualization (in which different computing tasks are partitioned on a server) to an environment in which their entire IT infrastructure, including business applications, security, storage, processing power, etc., is provisioned on demand.” To that end, IT needs to be managed as a service using a policy-driven system that allocates, manages, and tracks IT resources as they are needed. The z10 provides a range of policy-driven functions, including:

  • Authorization Management authenticates and authorizes which users can access specific business services and associated IT resources; thanks to encryption algorithms, z10 administrators can specify multiple layers of security and security clearance so authorized users can access sensitive information.

  • Utilization management maximizes system use; it’s designed to run the system at up to 100 percent utilization based on the varied user demands. z/OS, which the z10 supports, can manage transactions based on policies, adjusting transaction responses based on whether the user action is mission critical.

  • Just-in-time capacity delivers additional processing power and capacity on demand, such as supplying additional capacity during peak periods or seasons. The z10 will automate provisioning of processing power when needed to address changing business conditions, such as during demand spikes or when unanticipated demands arise.

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About the Author

James E. Powell is the former editorial director of Enterprise Strategies (