IT Management

Enterprise organizations are always looking for ways to make the mainframe more relevant in today’s service-centric IT world and more cost-effective when it comes to everyday transactional processing. With the exploitation of IBM specialty engines, these mainframe organizations are succeeding.

IBM’s desire to make the mainframe a more attractive platform for new workload is dramatically altering misperceptions about the mainframe’s viability in modern application development initiatives. In fact, the introduction of specialty engines has jump-started a mainframe integration revival that’s “reintroducing” mainframe computing benefits to enterprise IT architects.

Systems consolidation, virtualization, and the need to corral runaway distributed computing initiatives all play to mainframe strengths. When it comes to intensive volume processing, distributed systems are still in their infancy. Conversely, robust virtualization and workload management facilities make the mainframe an appealing target for capturing new Linux- and Java-based Web application and middleware workloads.

Over the past few years, three specialty engines— Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL), System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP), and System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP)—have evolved, each one optimized as a compelling alternative to attract specific new workloads.

These engines offload application processing from the mainframe’s General Purpose Processor (GPP) and run the target workload more effectively. Specialty engines also change the economics by providing a lifecycle cost of the solution that’s substantially lower than the cost of traditional mainframe software. In short, shifting transactional workloads from the GPP to specialty engines is a smart move—one that dramatically slashes the costs of mainframe integration within modern computing initiatives.

Specialty engines save money by allowing the enterprise to leverage mainframe computing power for new workloads and specific types of processing without substantially impacting the software costs associated with running and managing the mainframe environment.

By hosting specialized workloads, specialty engine processing is excluded from the overall MIPS or MSU ratings that determine mainframe software costs. Also, any work running on specialty engines frees up cycles on traditional processors; this stretches out software maintenance cycles, and, of course, reduces long-term costs.

These reductions in CPU consumption and associated costs, as well as the strong performance gains offered by specialty engine exploitation, tell a compelling story—in effect, you can run intensive workloads on a specialty engine and save money and achieve higher performance while enhancing the relevance of a core computing platform.

With all that in mind, it’s clear that mainframe organizations are buying into this value proposition, and as a result, they’re heavily investing in specialty engine adoption. According to IBM, IFL licensing is growing at 80 percent year-over-year, despite having been available since 2002. In parallel, the growth of zAAPs and zIIPs is progressing at 110 percent year-over-year.

Specialty Engine Introduction

2 Pages