In January 2008, Karl freund became the vice president of system z marketing—joining the system z group after a recent stint as IBm’s vice president of system p. His new task: do what he did in system p-land—bring some enthusiasm and excitement to system z—and greatly accelerate the platform’s product growth. His major challenge: convincing business and It executives that system z mainframes aren’t old technology, but rather one of the industry’s best platforms for consolidation, virtualization, security, service-oriented Architecture (soA), Linux/Java, energy efficiency, and so on. And how does he like his new job? Read on …
Who Is Karl Freund?
If you want to see a master vice president of Marketing at work, watch IBM’s Karl Freund. Seven years ago, he took over as vice president of Marketing for IBM’s System p—then in third place in the UNIX marketplace (significantly behind Sun and Hewlett-Packard). In five years of stewardship, IBM’s AIX (UNIX) operating environment on System p (now POWER systems) went from third place to first place—and is now growing revenues while grabbing market share (at the expense of the former leaders) in the flat UNIX marketplace.
After about a year-long hiatus from System p, when Freund headed IBM’s competitive marketing organization, IBM put Freund in charge of System z marketing. And given his past performance, it’s fair to expect him to perform the same magic he performed in the System p world—only this time on IBM’s venerable System z mainframe.
The Primary Challenge—and the “z” Advantages
According to Freund, the primary challenge is to convince IT and business executives to take a new, unbiased look at IBM’s System z. “If they do this,” he contends, “they will find a host of advantages in z architecture over other scale-up and scale-out architectures.” Without losing a beat, he articulates those advantages as:
• Outstanding performance: 50 percent more performance than the previous generation z9
• Virtualization leadership: System z is the “gold standard” by which other virtualization hardware and software vendors measure their progress. IBM invented virtualization on System z almost 40 years ago and is way out in front of the market in terms of depth, manageability, and sophistication.
• Consolidation facilities: For instance, thousands of Linux images can simultaneously run on one System z10.
• Manageability: Because the mainframe has been around for more than four decades, the level of manageability exceeds any other platform on the market. It can take fewer than half as many systems managers to manage a System z than a comparably configured competing system. In addition, in most parts of the world, systems management salaries/benefits are extremely expensive—so System z buyers can save substantial IT budget expenses by adopting System z architecture.
• Security: “There’s no other commercial system in the world that has attained an EAL5 security certification for logical partitioning. This means data can’t leak between operating system instances on our System z—which isn’t the case for several other vendors’ virtualization products,” Freund claims.
• Energy efficiency: This is a huge advantage, especially over distributed systems architectures, because System z uses highly efficient power supplies, water cooling that has a 3:1 heat dissipation advantage over air cooling, and a high-speed internal network bus that eliminates the need to install a myriad of Network Interface Cards (NICs) and the need to power energy-hungry external hubs and switches. “Underutilized, distributed systems architectures, by design, waste a tremendous amount of energy compared to our green-striped System z,” Freund says.
• Processing power: “System z packs a tremendous amount of processing power into a small footprint,” he continues. “For markets where real estate costs are high and getting higher, and where data centers have maxed-out in terms of available space, System z provides an excellent alternative to scaled-out distributed systems,” Freund says.
Fixing IBM’s System z Go-to-Market
Getting this message to prospective System z buyers involves not only better external marketing, but also a change in the way IBM goes to market with System z.
“For years, IBM’s System z business unit has been a ‘turn-the-crank’ business,” Freund says. “IBM would build a new system, ratchet up the MIPS (Millions of Instructions Per Second) performance, and put together attractive upgrade programs for existing customers. As a result, MIPS as well as revenue steadily grew at existing customer accounts. But we weren’t cracking a lot of new accounts …