With the introduction of the new IBM z13, the latest rev of the 50-year old mainframe product line introduced today, it will be hard for IT people to persist in the mistaken belief that the mainframe can’t handle today’s workloads or that it is too expensive. Built around an 8 core, 22nm processor, the IBM z13’s 141 configurable cores (any mix of CP, IFL, zIIP, ICF, SAP) delivers a 40 percent total capacity improvement over the zEC12.
The IBM z13 will handle up to 8,000 virtual enterprise-grade Linux servers per system, more than 50 per core. Remember when Nationwide Insurance consolidated 3000 x86 servers mainly running Linux on a System z and saved $15 million over three years, a figure later revised considerably higher. With the IBM z13 Nationwide could consolidate more than twice the number of Linux servers at a lower cost and the resulting saving would be higher still.
If you consider Linux VM is synonymous with cloud services, the new machine will enable superior cloud services at up to 32 percent lower cost than an x86-based cloud. It also will cost up to 60 percent less than public cloud over three years. In almost every metric, the IBM z13 delivers more capacity or performance at lower cost.
IBM delivered an almost constant stream of innovations that work to optimize performance and reduce cost. For example, it boosted single thread capacity by 10 percent over the zEC12. It also delivers 3x more memory to help both z/OS and Linux workloads. The more memory combined with a new cache design, improved I/O bandwidth and compression will boost analytics on the machine. In fact, with the z13 you can do in-memory analytics if you want it.
The one thing it doesn’t do is boast the fastest commercial processor in terms of sheer speed. The zEC12 processor still is the fastest but with all the optimizations and enhancements IBM has built in the z13 should beat the z12 in handling the workloads organizations most want to run. For instance, the z13 performs 2X faster than the most common server processors, 300 percent more memory, 100 percent more bandwidth and delivers vector processing analytics to speed mobile transactions. As a result, the z13 transaction engine is capable of analyzing transactions in real time.
Similarly, simultaneous multi-threading delivers more throughput for Linux and zIIP-eligible workloads while larger caches optimize data serving. It also improved on-chip hardware compression, which saves disk space and cuts data transfer time. Also, there is new workload container pricing and new multiplex pricing, both of which again will save money.
In addition, IBM optimized this machine for both mobile and analytics, as well as for cloud. This is the new versatility of this redefined mainframe. Last year, IBM discounted the cost of mobile transactions on the z. The new machine continues to optimize for mobile with consolidated REST APIs for all z/OS transactions through z/OS Connect while seamlessly channeling z/OS transactions to mobile devices with the MobileFirst Platform. It also ensures end-to-end security from mobile device to mainframe with z/OS, RACF and MobileFirst products.
For analytics, IBM continues to optimize Hadoop and expand the analytics portfolio on the z13. Specifically, the massive memory capability, up to 10TB, opens new opportunities for in-memory computing. The ability to perform analytics by combining data from different data sources and do it in-memory and in real-time within the platform drives more efficiencies, such as eliminating the need for ETL and the need to move data between platforms, as had previously often been the case. Now, just use Hadoop on z to explore data there within the secure zone of the mainframe. This opens a wide variety of analytics workloads, anything from fraud prevention to customer retention.
In addition to improved price/performance overall, IBM announced Technology Update Pricing for z13, including AWLC price reductions for z13 that deliver 5 percent price/performance on average in addition to performance gains in software exploitation of z13.
And the list of new and improved capabilities with the z13 just keeps going on and on. With security IBM has accelerated the speed of encryption up to 2x over the zEC12 to help protect the privacy of data throughout its life cycle. It also extended enhanced public key support for constrained digital environments using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), which helps applications like Chrome, Firefox and Apple’s iMessage. In addition, the z13 sports a few I/O enhancements, like the first system to use a standards based approach for enabling Forward Error Correction for a complete end-to-end solution.
Finally, IBM has not abandoned hybrid computing where you can mix a variety of blades, including x86 Windows blades and others in the zBX extension cabinet. With the z13, IBM introduced the new Mod 004 zBX cabinet, an upgrade from the previous Mod 002 and 003.
I think the introduction of the z13, along with structural organization changes, will drive System z quarterly financial performance back into the black as soon as deliveries roll. And if IBM stays consistent with past behavior within a year or so you can expect a scaled down, lower cost Business Class version of the z13; although it may be not be called Business Class. Stay tuned; 2015 should be an exciting year.