IT Management

By now everyone knows the specs on the newest IBM mainframe, the System z10 Enterprise Class (EC). Bigger, faster, more energy efficient; able to drive double the workload of a z9 and leap tall buildings in a single bound. Industry analysts agree the z10 is hot in terms of its performance specs.

“It certainly is the next level of the mainframe,” says Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor at Illuminata Inc. “From a hardware perspective, it is a pretty big jump.”

The real issue, however, isn’t the performance but whether that performance changes the game for the data center and the business. Charles King, principal analyst at research firm Pund-IT, wonders, “I’m not sure how much it will let you do new things.”

The potential for doing new things in new ways may be there when the z10 is combined with:

• Growing use of specialty processors on the System z
• The addition of a new specialty processor
• The ability soon to run Sun Solaris applications on the System z
• Adoption of a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)
• Expansion of Tivoli management capabilities. IBM is encouraging exactly this kind of speculation with its latest vision for the data center.

More of the Same

For the traditional IBM mainframe data center, the z10 represents the next boost in mainframe performance. “Existing mainframe clients will be able to do more of what they have been doing,” says David Gelardi, IBM vice president, Mainframe and Performance. That means consolidating workloads by running more virtual machines, which saves floor space, energy, and people costs. “The more powerful the computer, the less the cost of people,” he adds. And the z10 is as powerful as a mainframe gets.

IBM’s existing z9 customers will likely move to the z10.

“We’ve already ordered one,” says Brian Peterson, a z/OS systems programmer at a major Midwest health insurer. The new z10 will be put to use initially as the remote failover machine in the event the insurer has to recover its existing z9 environment. For this company and many like it, the z10 clearly represents more of the same but with new bells and whistles.

For example, Peterson is eager to try the z10 InfiniBand data bus.

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