IBM Unveils zEnterprise System, Ushering in an Era of Smarter Data Centers

IBM announced the zEnterprise mainframe server and a new systems design that allows workloads on mainframe, POWER7 and System x servers to share resources and be managed as a single, virtualized system.  "The new mainframe is the fastest enterprise server in the world and represents a giant leap forward in performance," says Tom Rosamilia, general manager for IBM Power and z Systems. "This new dimension in enterprise computing - extending mainframe governance to POWER7 and System x blades integrated into the zEnterprise System architecture - was developed over the past three years with direct involvement from a team of IBM's 30 top customers, which provided direct input at every stage of the development process."

 The new systems design combines IBM's new zEnterprise mainframe server with new technology - the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension and the IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager -that enable it to manage workloads running across System z, and select POWER7 and System x servers. IBM says the new technology is the result of an investment of more than $1.5 billion in IBM research and development. IBM also says the zEnterprise System "marks the most significant design change in 20 years for the IBM mainframe, extending the mainframe's powerful reliability and security features to additional systems in the data center."

As a result, companies can integrate the management of zEnterprise System resources as a single system and extend mainframe qualities, such as governance and manageability, to workloads running on select IBM POWER7 and System x blade servers. IBM says this new integrated ability to manage workloads across systems can drive up to 40% lower acquisition costs and reduce cost of ownership by 55%.

The zEnterprise System also helps address the jumble of disparate technologies seen in today's data centers, added over time to run specific applications and which operate in silos, sometimes unable to communicate with each other in real time and requiring separate staff and software tools to manage. IBM estimates that complex database queries can experience up to a ten-fold performance improvement in a hybrid environment enables by the new system.

The IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension supports POWER7 and System x BladeCenter systems, as well as blades optimized for specific workloads, such as analytics and managing Web infrastructure. IBM blade servers inside BladeCenter Extension - which can be managed like mainframe resources - integrate with System z and can run tens of thousands of off-the-shelf applications. Later this year IBM will also deliver the zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension with support for IBM POWER7 blades running AIX, IBM's UNIX operating system. IBM also plans to announce additional general purpose blades for the IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension sometime next year, including select IBM System x-based blades running Linux. Additional workload optimized blades are planned to include IBM DataPower for improving website and network performance.

IBM also announced new systems software called Unified Resource Manager, which is firmware intended to integrate multiple platform resources as a single virtualized system and provide unified management for zEnterprise. More than 100,000 virtualized servers can be managed as a single system on a fully-configured cluster of zEnterprise Systems, the company says. Unified Resource Manager is the key to using mainframe quality of service attributes, including security and reliability, to benefit workloads running on select Power and System x BladeCenter systems. For example, the Unified Resource Manager can identify system bottlenecks or failures among disparate systems. If a failure occurs on a System x blade server, the Unified Resource Manager can instantaneously move the affected application to another System x blade to keep it running. At the same time, the Unified Resource Manager automatically sends an electronic message to IBM to initiate a service call.

zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager is also designed to improve network security across applications spanning the complete zEnterprise system, including workloads on IBM POWER7 and System x blades.  This helps reduce complexity and the need for additional encryption and firewall security software within the zEnterprise environment.

The core server in the zEnterprise System - called zEnterprise 196 - contains 96 microprocessors running at 5.2Ghz, capable of executing more than 50 billion instructions per second, IBM says. This new microprocessor technology has new software to optimize performance of data-heavy workloads, including up to a 60% improvement in data-intensive and Java workloads, says IBM. The company says that the new system offers 60% more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10, and uses about the same amount of electricity. IBM System z servers are the only commercial system to achieve Evaluation Assurance Level 5 security classification.

The z196 can be configured to include up to 80 specialty engines to further reduce costs and increase performance including the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) for integrating Java workloads with core business applications, the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) designed to help free-up computing capacity and lower IT costs, and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) to optimize Linux workloads running on the mainframe.

For more information on additional components of the announcement, including IBM Smart Analytics Optimizer, a new Tivoli integrated service management solution for zEnterprise software,  and a new Rational Developer for System z Unit Test feature,  go here.