IT Management

Until recently, configuring and ordering an IBM mainframe was a bit like building a Dagwood sandwich using some or most of what was in IBM’s cupboards. Running the IBM configurator involved so many cross-item dependencies and exclusions that it wasn’t an exercise for the fainthearted.

In August 2009, IBM introduced a set of System z Solution Editions that it has subsequently expanded. The purpose was to simplify the ordering process for customers (particularly those new to mainframes), standardize configurations, and tightly focus on running specific applications, functions, or services (Linux, cloud computing, security, etc.).

According to IBM, Solution Editions arose from the need to clearly communicate and demonstrate the System z’s competitiveness for new workloads. The first one, System z Solution Edition for SAP, lets customers extend SAP mainframe environments by implementing additional SAP applications or importing workload from distributed platforms. It provides:

  • Near-continuous availability and data protection with DB2 for z/OS databases on System z
  • SAP application deployments for running Linux on the System z platform
  • Competitive pricing for customers adding mainframe capacity
  • Additional benefits, including improved systems availability and simplified systems management, that accrue from consolidating SAP workload on the mainframe.

Based on that offering’s success, IBM extended the portfolio to include bundles for the most popular workload environments:

  • Data warehousing: Allows deploying of new Business Intelligence (BI) applications on System z while avoiding lengthy delays common to acquiring and integrating distributed servers
  • Application development: Makes mainframe deployment of new workloads economical, simple, and accessible to application developers while facilitating a development environment consistent with distributed platforms
  • Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS): Offers attractive prices on popular continuous availability and disaster recovery configurations
  • Security: Minimizes online security threats for business compliance, centralized enterprise identity and access management, encryption and key management, and fraud analysis
  • ACI: Runs applications from ACI Worldwide, an international provider of software for electronic payment systems
  • WebSphere: Combines System z technology with IBM’s WebSphere Application Server for a foundation to build, reuse, run, integrate, and manage Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) applications and services
  • Cloud computing: Combines a System z server with Tivoli software and IBM services to create a service automation and management framework used for workloads in the enterprise. Combined hardware, software, and services provide a quick start for cloud computing with Tivoli software automating requesting, deploying, monitoring, and managing cloud computing services. IBM promises improved utilization capability of system infrastructure from ranges of 10 to 20 percent to 80 to 90 percent.
  • Enterprise Linux: Improves Return on Investment (ROI) through server virtualization and workload consolidation on a single mainframe
  • Chordiant: Provides growth options and performance enhancements, specialty engines, and high availability for front-office solutions capturing and effectively anticipating and responding to customer behavior in real-time.

Each Solution Edition includes all required IBM hardware and maintenance, IBM software, and storage (where appropriate) to provide a high-availability solution priced competitively against distributed servers. Solution Editions are based on proven reference configurations to avoid the complexity and effort involved in finding and integrating custom, piece-part solutions, often involving multiple vendors.

Solution Editions are available for both new purchases and as additional capacity for installed systems, and configurations are flexible; they’re not limited to standard hardware/software templates, so customers can install additional features and components.

EFiS Financial Solutions AG Joins zWorld

As a site new to mainframes, Germany’s EFiS Financial Solutions AG (formerly called Bankenservice) recently installed the Enterprise Linux Server Solution Edition, including a System z9 Business Class with three Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) processors, 16GB of memory, and an IBM System Storage DS6800. The z9 replaced several Sun Solaris, HP/UX, and Intel-based servers; Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for System z server software is used.

The mainframe, with its virtual Linux servers, is used as a transaction platform based on EURO FINANCE Informations-System from ABK. It also serves as the clearing system for mass payments and the settlement system for high-value payments.

The System z was considered to be the best platform for a new data center focusing on green information technology, according to Ernst Bauer, EFiS COO. He added that scalability, security requirements, managing fewer servers, and increasing efficiency were the main selection criteria. The mainframe is well-integrated with other systems based on industry-standard Internet Protocol (IP) communication.

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