IBM Angles for More Mainframe Customers

Systems vendors these days have been exploring myriad ways to help their
customers raise return-on-investment while paring costs at a time when
spending on systems has become nearly nil. IBM, Sun and HP have all been
looking for ways to move beyond basic server consolidation to find valuable
placement with their vital customers.

Looking to go a step beyond traditional server consolidation to help its own
share of customers, Armonk, N.Y.’s IBM Tuesday announced a
promotion for its mainframe customers and rolled out the high-end, 24- and 32-way versions
of its z990 machines, code-named T-Rex.

Peter McCaffrey, program director, IBM zSeries Product marketing, said
customers who purchase a zSeries 990 mainframe server and BladeCenter may receive a rebate of as much as $250,000. McCaffrey
said IBM believes these department store-like bargains, good from now until
the end of the year, will help IBM attract new customers.

McCaffrey told the new “Infrastructure
Simplification” strategy collapses multiple tiers of computing systems such
as servers, storage and networking technologies into a more efficient system
often using mainframe and blade technology.

Because most IT environments employ three to fours tiers of computing, with
caching and security servers on the front end, application servers as a
middle layer and transaction and data processing servers on the end, IBM
feels this set-up is a bit cumbersome in its current incarnation.
By merging computing layers into two hardware pieces, IBM believes customers
save money because they buy less infrastructure and require less maintenance
than a four-tier system.

Why the combination of mainframes and blade servers?

“These are the kinds of technology we see customers leverage as they look to
simplify systems,” McCAffrey explained. “The Bladecenter is easy to scale
out. If you need more Web servers or firewalls, they immediately plug in.
And the mainframe easily scales up to millions of transactions. By
connecting both you get a great deal of flexibility and scalability. You can
collapse different layers of servers, storage and networking into two
centers of gravity.”

While BladeCenter is being offered most prominently, McCaffrey added that
the z990 on-demand promotion may include WebSphere software, storage and
grid solutions.

IBM also made high-end versions of its Z990 mainframe, announced last May
after four years of development and $1 billion in associated costs, ready
for public consumption.

Specifically, IBM rolled out the 24-way z990 Model C
and 32-way D machines, which were designed for a customer’s heaviest
transaction processing requirements. Rounding out the family, which already saw the 8-way Model A and 16-way Model B systems come to the fore, these systems are capable of providing
more than 9000 MIPS (million of instructions per second).

The vendor also unveiled new features that extend support for Fibre Channel
Protocol (FCP), networking functions, Linux on zSeries and LPAR, or logical
partitioning capabilities, which can enhance the value of consolidation on
the mainframe.

These include on/off capacity on demand for Integrated Facility for Linux
(IFL) engines on z990, which allows z990 customers running Linux on an to
temporarily turn on additional IFL engine capacity for spikes in demand,
enhanced FCP to zSeries for consolidation of Linux workloads and more
Parallel Sysplex capabilities to link equipped data centers as far as 100
kilometers apart.

The zSeries On Demand Promotional Offering and eServer z990 are available
now. New features on the z990 are expected to be available by October 31.

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