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IBM Unveils Breakthrough Business Class Mainframe; Targets Growth of SOA Transactions and Data


Priced to Expand Mainframe Footprint Into Mid-Market Companies and Emerging Markets; Shanghai Lab to Develop Mainframe Software

BEIJING - 27 Apr 2006: IBM today launched a new System z9 Business Class mainframe with pricing starting at around $100,000 (1) and designed to tackle the critical computing challenges of our time: the coming wave of automated Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), new heightened expectations for data security and the rapid expansion of emerging markets. The aggressively positioned system features a new specialty engine and capabilities.

IBM also announced a lab in Shanghai that will develop software for System z as well as do related testing. In addition, IBM enhanced its System z9 Enterprise Class server with features that increase the system’s business flexibility.

The IBM System z9 Business Class broadens access to the System z9 platform -- the world’s most secure commercially available mainframe computer -- around the globe, in China and other fast-emerging markets, where firms are rapidly deploying mainframe technology needed to achieve the scale and reliability required to keep pace in a globally integrated economy. The new mainframe is expected to play a growing role in healthcare and retail as it increasingly is used to process sensitive data that is progressively more shared.

The z9 Business Class was introduced at a press conference in China, whose nationwide effort to modernize corporate and government IT infrastructures is uniquely served by IBM’s System z. The rapid expansion of mid-market enterprises in China, as well as the immense pool of potential customers, calls for a system that can start small and scale on demand to meet increased demands of consolidated workloads. According to AMI Partners, there are 8.3 million small- and medium-sized enterprises in China (2).

The new machine is designed for a world that each day is generating vast amounts of data and transactions from many of different sources, both heterogeneous and homogeneous networks of machines. The inherent qualities of the System z9 Business Class provide an outstanding base from which to build composite applications, leveraging the emerging focus on Service Oriented Architectures. For example, by combining key existing core transactions with newly written transactions, a business can quickly compose a new application, benefiting from the use of existing assets and new technology.

The Coolest Place in the Datacenter

Marrying the power of hundreds of virtual servers with simplicity of a single physical system, the System z9 could offer customers substantial savings. While on a processor-to-processor comparison, a 54-way z9 Enterprise Class computer consumes about the same amount of energy as 27 Dell PowerEdge 2850 servers with 54 x86-based processors (3), that is not the complete story. The one-to-one processor comparison is deceiving. Significantly, the high utilization rate of the System z9 mainframes -- systems can and do operate at 80 to 100 percent utilization -- combined with its ability to “virtualize” workloads, can enable a single mainframe processor to perform far more work than a single x86 processor running Microsoft Windows. The latter may run as low as 5 percent utilization.

“With energy costs rising, and power density of new electronics increasing, power-efficient devices are increasing in importance, especially with large data centers,” according to Jerald Murphy, SVP and Director of Research Operations for Robert Frances Group. “Every CIO I’ve spoken to who operates a large data center has told me that the mainframe is now the coolest, most efficient device in their data center.”

But utilization rates are only one part of the story. A distributed environment of Intel or Unix servers may include many systems that are not running workloads. These include systems for test and development, hot standby/failover, and training and integration -- all of which can be performed on a single mainframe. Given this reality, one System z9 Business Class system might handle the workload of up to hundreds of distributed servers based on Unix or x86 class systems.

Unlike competing servers, the processors, subsystems and software contained in the System z9 Business Class possess the advanced security features resulting from the experience that comes from more than 40 years of mainframe innovation.

“Unix and Intel systems, while providing good technology, evolved from PCs and workstations,” said Jim Stallings, general manager of System z, IBM Systems and Technology Group. “The IBM mainframe was designed from the beginning to share work across all dimensions -- among servers, applications and people. That’s the true power of the platform.”

Business Flexibility

The System z9 Business Class and its larger sibling, the System z9 Enterprise Class (EC) will be the first to offer the System z9 Integrated Information Processor (zIIP), a specialty engine that runs eligible database workloads. Shipping this quarter, zIIP is designed to help free-up general computing capacity and can help lower software costs for select workloads such as business intelligence (BI), ERP and CRM on the mainframe. IBM will not impose software charges on zIIP capacity. The zIIP effectively better enables data to be centralized on the mainframe.

The ease and economy of this solution helps break down the walls between transactional datastores on the mainframe and BI, ERP and CRM applications that run on distributed computers. With the zIIP capability, the System z9 mainframe helps minimize the need to maintain duplicate copies of the data and provide better security between the applications and the data.

The zIIP capitalizes on a growing trend towards consolidating databases from various platforms, especially Windows, onto the mainframe. According to a recent news report on a study by Gartner: “some 28.2 percent of companies polled by customers said they would be transitioning databases on to the z/OS platform -- and a ’large percentage’ of these customers are moving from Windows to z/OS” (4).

Designed with small and medium sized businesses in mind, the System z9 Business Class allows workloads to scale in smaller increments than ever before -- more than doubling capacity settings to 73 (5), lowering the point of entry while affording customers maximum business flexibility.

With the introduction today of the new Business Class and Enterprise Class mainframes, IBM is the first vendor to provide a complete 4Gbps FICON solution with IBM SAN, disk, and tape offerings that support 4Gbps attachment to IBM System z9 FICON Express4 technology. The combination will provide unprecedented throughput, with twice the bandwidth previously available. This higher bandwidth is designed to enable businesses, including SMBs focused on reducing overall business costs, to consolidate and simplify management, which will help them to reduce the costs of their storage infrastructures. The FICON/FCP links are also auto-negotiating, so they can support an IT infrastructure with a mix of 4 Gbps, 2 Gbps, and 1 Gbps technology at the same time.

IBM is also announcing an expanded range of 4 Gbps FICON- and FCP-enabled SAN switches and directors for business and enterprise class environments with technologies from Cisco Systems and McDATA. The System z9 will also provide for increased data protection with IBM storage devices, beginning with the IBM System Storage TS1120 Tape Drive, which is planned to feature new encryption capabilities in the second half of 2006.

About IBM
IBM is the world’s largest information technology company with more then 90 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. Drawing on resources from across IBM and key business partners, IBM offers a wide range of services, financing, solutions and technologies that enable customers to take full advantage of the on demand era. For more information on IBM’s on demand strategy, visit


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