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IBM: Master Mainframes to Save Money

NEW YORK -- You didn't really think IBM  would let the mainframe go away, did you?

The company today improved its mainframe-oriented software to boost performance and security, and it created an online meeting place for collaboration. The news, announced at the IBM System z Summit meeting here, represents the next leg of the systems vendor's five-year, $100 million mainframe push.

"The mainframe has crossed lines," said IBM Software Senior Vice President Steve Mills at the event. "When you think back decades, these things were incredibly expensive. Now, they're relatively inexpensive. For the amount of work that you can get done, they're extraordinarily cheap."

For example, Mills said, labor and power costs associated with running a single server has exceeded the cost of the server itself. When you consider that so-called server farms have hundreds to thousands of machines that need to be managed, the proposition of narrowing the management and power footprint to one or a handful of mainframes becomes more attractive.

Reducing the number of physical machines means less power consumption and other costs associated with data centers that may have large farms of servers running one application.

"Should I be running 15,000, 20,000, 30,000 unique server images in my large business, or can I distill that down to a much smaller number of images, dramatically reduce labor costs, bring the work together, save space, save power and realize a lower cost of ownership and executing that work?"

To support this approach, IBM boosted the System z's z/VM virtualization software, which allows admins to run multiple operating systems on one physical machine to support 10 times more virtualized memory and up to 256 gigabytes of memory. The extra memory allows admins to employ more virtual machines as replacements for smaller, physical servers.

The revamped Tivoli zSecure V1.8.1 suite employs technology from its Consul purchase, which automatically monitors threats, audits usage and configurations and enforces policy compliance on mainframes.

The idea is to eliminate manual administration and audit processes so IT admins can focus on other tasks, as well as to meet compliance regulations are well met.

IBM today also unveiled Destination z, a Web site intended to inspire collaboration among customers, IBM business partners and software vendors.

Resources on the site include access development tools, technical guidance and links to total cost of ownership tools and case histories that reveal benefits of using mainframes for computing. Over 20 IBM business partners and systems integrators have joined IBM Destination z.

To help move businesses' distributed servers onto one System z machine, Big Blue today introduced IT Value Based Analytics (ITVBA), which pairs IBM's Global Business Services methodology with Tivoli Usage Accounting Manager and Tivoli decision-support tools to help managers align IT costs to business services.

IBM today also announced IBM Implementation Services for Parallel Sysplex, a new product designed to help clients implement a clustered mainframe environment.

IBM's mainframe noise comes at a time when Sun Microsystems , HP  and Dell  want you to believe businesses are looking for smaller servers.

The z Summit shows that IBM refuses to let its message around Big Iron fade.