IBM Delivers Mainframe for the Masses

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2006-04-27 Print this article Print

IBM's System z9 Business Class system offers a new database specialty engine and SOA capabilities.

IBM is looking to make the mainframe more attractive to SMB customers and emerging markets.

The Armonk, N.Y., company in May will launch the System z9 Business Class mainframe, with a starting price of $100,000 and a host of new specialty engines and security features.

IBM officials are making the announcement April 27 in China, at the same time they are unveiling a new laboratory in Shanghai designed to enhance the mainframe platform's Linux capabilities and server System z9 customers in that country.

"We're really going after the small and medium businesses" with the new mainframe, said Jim Porell, IBM distinguished engineer and chief architect of mainframe software.

The z9 Business Class system also represents a step in IBM's initiative to rebrand its server lines. On April 21, the company unveiled System x, which replaces its eServer xSeries family of Intel-based servers.

Click here to read more about System x.

The z9 Business Class will be IBM's low-end mainframe model, which currently is the z890, Porell said. The z9 Enterprise Class targets the high end, where the z990 now plays.

Both systems will be the first to offer IBM's new System z9 Integrated information Processor, or zIIP, a specialty engine designed to run database workloads, freeing up the general-purpose processors to handle other workloads, such as business intelligence and enterprise resource planning, Porell said.

IBM has created a number of such specialty engines. In 2001, IBM released the Integrated Facility for Linux chip, dedicated to Linux workloads. Three years later, IBM announced the zSeries Application Assist Processor, which helped bring Java applications into the mainframe.

The zIIP, first unveiled in January, will help businesses consolidate databases from different platforms.

The z9 Business Class mainframe, due May 26, also addresses such issues as the growing use of SOA (service-oriented architecture) transactions and cooling and power consumption in the data center, IBM officials said. By consolidating multiple x86 and Unix servers onto a single mainframe, businesses can save on power, cooling and data center real estate costs, they said.

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