IBM Dusts Off Mainframes

As a leading server vendor, IBM has spent a lot of money
developing new, more compact machines with so-called “mainframe-inspired”
technologies. That doesn’t mean Big Blue has forgotten about its former
bread-and-butter boxes.

The company has been making a case for not just the survival,
but the continued success of its zSeries mainframe machines as it announced
one of Europe’s largest deployments of Linux on the mainframe.

Swiss-owned Endress+Hauser, which makes process control devices, has agreed
to consolidate its 19 global, Unix-based SAPR/3 systems onto two IBM eServer
zSeries 990 mainframes. The systems boast 36 integrated Linux processors.
Financial terms of the deal were not made public, but zSeries 990 generally
top the $1 million mark.

The goal is to make Endress+Hauser’s applications, which serve 3,500 users
and are housed in the company’s data center in Weil am Rhein, Germany,
easier to manage.

This includes perks central to IBM’s e-business on-demand computing
strategy, such as virtualization, which allows multiple computer systems to
be partitioned and run independently. Virtualization allows customers to run
multiple servers on one mainframe.

Walter Rink, managing director of Endress+Hauser InfoServe, the IT service
provider of the Endress+Hauser Group, discussed the customer’s challenge in
a statement.

“Being a global company, our IT users are spread across many locations,”
Rink said. “When we considered which platform we needed to migrate our ERP
application from SAP R/2 to R/3, we also took the opportunity to look at how
we could bring together the SAP R/3 systems onto a single server.”

While IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems and
Dell all scramble for more server market share, Big Blue
has most of what the others offer. But it is certainly distinguished because of
its mainframes, more than 40-year-old machines that were once thought to be

IBM aimed to
prove skeptics wrong with its next-generation z990 (code-named T-Rex)
mainframes over a year ago. The company has gone on to
grow its mainframe revenue for four consecutive quarters, with a more than
30 percent year-to-year for the last three.

This strongly suggests customers are still interested in mainframe
technologies despite other industry trends to
smaller, module boxes. But many customers are also looking for smaller servers
based on Linux, which bodes well for IBM, which is crafting a Linux-based
blade server.

While the biggest win in awhile, Wednesday’s zSeries coup is hardly a
one-off for IBM. Last month, the vendor completed work on disaster recovery
gear for the Principal Financial Group, the Des Moines, Iowa, provider of
employee benefits.

Principal’s data centers utilize zSeries mainframe servers and IBM
TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Servers (ESS) to decrease the potential for
data loss. The system serves 15.6 million customers and can be up and
running in less than 24 hours in the event of a disaster.

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