Analysis: New IBM mainframe won't end battle for Big Iron's soul
First System z update since 2005 due this month; fight against servers continues
Computerworld - IBM is expected later this month to announce its next-generation System z mainframe, its first update since the release of the z9 three years ago. It is promising improved energy efficiency, security and "50% more capacity" in its new hardware.
But what this new mainframe won't change is the ongoing battle for IBM mainframe customers, who can easily spend millions of dollars on a new system and are continually wooed by alternative and much less costly platforms.
The venerable mainframe has a vital role in many large companies, and that's not going to change anytime soon. The mainframe "is the king of the house, it's where the crown jewels are stored," said Mike Walter, a Z/VM systems manager at Hewitt Associates LLC, a human resource services company in Lincolnshire, Ill.
Mainframes earn their keep in many ways, but the one characteristic that's often at the top of any list is their reliability. Walter can only recall one mainframe crash in 10 years. "How many distributed servers can say that?" he said.
A big advantage for distributed servers, on the other hand, is cost. Palm Beach Community College just auctioned off its zSeries 890 on eBay for $40,000, after paying $500,000 for the system three years ago.
Tony Parziale, the CIO of the 46,000-student college in Lake Worth, Fla., said the four-socket Intel system that is replacing the z890 will cost about $30,000. While his IT staff will miss some of the mainframe's tools, the new system "runs faster than the mainframe, and the software cost less," he said.
Decisions, decisionsThis conflict between distributed systems and mainframes is evident in a recent survey by the IBM user group Share. More than 430 of its members, with job titles ranging from systems administrator to CIO, responded to the survey. In it, 23% said they were planning to increase usage of their mainframes, compared to 19% that will reduce their use or move off of the systems completely. Of the remainder, 14% said no major changes or migrations were planned; 23% weren't running a mainframe, 18% were unsure, and the balance was in the category of "other."
Since the release of the z9 in 2005, IBM has made a series of announcements concerning projects directed at improving the platform's administration. These include a $100 million investment by IBM to simplify the mainframe environment and encourage use of the systems in service-oriented architectures (SOA). The company is also funding training programs at universities worldwide to ensure that there is enough mainframe-trained talent available.
The upcoming System z announcement will also emphasize "unprecedented levels of workload consolidation," said IBM CFO Mark Loughridge, who previewed the upcoming system during a conference call on the company's latest financial results last month.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 4 Customers who never have to refresh their PCs again This paper illustrates a common theme: the combination of desktop virtualization and thin client computing helps organizations deliver an up-to-date user experience more...
- Mobile Devices: The New Thin Clients Get essential guidance for understanding the role thin clients plus virtual desktops play in the enterprise today.
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
- PaaS - Powering a New Era of Business IT Why PaaS has suddenly become relevant and irresistible to many organizations. Dive into the opportunities and considerations associated with using PaaS from an...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have. All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts