IBM Announces zEnterprise System

New zEnterprise mainframe and systems architecture lets mainframe, Power, and x86 systems share resources, be managed as single, virtualized system

Big Blue has unveiled a new energy-efficient zEnterprise mainframe server and announced new systems design that lets mainframe, POWER7, and System x server workloads share resources, all managed as a virtualized system. IBM says the new mainframe is "the most powerful and energy-efficient mainframe ever."

The new systems design incorporates the new zEnterprise mainframe server with new technology -- namely, zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension and zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (which also improves network security for applications) -- enabling control of workloads running on System z as well as some POWER7 and System x servers.

The company said the technology allows enterprises to reduce acquisition costs by up to 40 percent and cut TCO by up to 55 percent. Enterprises can manage a fully-configured zEnterprise Systems cluster of over 100,000 virtualized servers as a single system.

The announcement takes direct aim at a frequent data center dilemma: the heterogeneous collection of equipment where many components were designed to run specific applications. By operating in silos, these components often cannot communicate with each other and may require specialized staff, skills, or knowledge to operate and maintain.

Big Blue said the technology "is the result of an investment of more than $1.5 billion in IBM research and development as well as more than three years of collaboration with some of IBM's top clients around the world." The technology also extends mainframe characteristics, including governance and manageability, to workloads running on some of Big Blue's POWER7 and System x blade servers.

In a statement, IBM said it will add support for IBM POWER7 blades using its AIX operating system later this year to the zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension. Next year, it said, it will announce "additional general-purpose blades for the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension, including select IBM System x-based blades running Linux. Additional workload optimized blades are planned to include IBM DataPower for improving [Web site] and network performance."

Powerful but Not Power Hungry

Taming the heterogeneous data center is just one benefit. The core server in the system -- the zEnterprise 196 has 96 microprocessors running at 5.2Ghz; IBM says the 196 can execute over 50 billion instructions per second. The microprocessors' software optimizes "performance of data-heavy workloads, including up to a 60% improvement in data intensive and Java workloads."

Besides speed, the new zEnterprise servers can cut energy costs thanks to improvements to the microprocessor's design and power conversion and distribution efficiency. The system "offers 60 percent more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10, and uses about the same amount of electricity. For clients selecting Linux on System z, a single virtualized server can be created and deployed for less than $1 per day. It costs 74 percent less to run comparative Oracle workloads on the zEnterprise 196 compared to x86 systems."

Need to cut energy more? IBM is offering a water-cooling option that connects to a data center's existing chilled-water system and can cut energy consumption by another 12 percent.

The new z196 builds on the IBM System z industry leading security features. IBM System z servers are the only commercial system to achieve Evaluation Assurance Level 5 security classification.

Big Blue says its software has been updated to work with the zEnterprise. For example, "new Tivoli integrated service management for zEnterprise software helps provide visibility, control, and automation for applications, business services, infrastructure, and data resources."