IBM announced Thursday its zEnterprise mainframe server, which it described as "the most powerful and energy-efficient mainframe ever." The Armonk, N.Y.-based company called the new zEnterprise "the most significant design change in 20 years for the IBM mainframe." At the same time, the company unveiled a new systems design that allows mainframe, POWER7 and System x servers to be managed as one virtual system.
IBM said its new systems design is the result of an R&D investment of more than $1.5 billion, combining the new zEnterprise mainframe with a new zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension and Unified Resource Manager. The resulting system, IBM said, can reduce cost of ownership by 55 percent and lower acquisition costs by 40 percent.
'Jumble of Disparate Technologies'
The zEnterprise System is intended to address what the company described as "the jumble of disparate technologies" that can develop in data centers, sometimes operating with separate staffs and management tools. But the new system allows a financial-services firm, for instance, to both manage credit-card transactions and analyze the information, all within seconds instead of hours. Also being introduced is the Smart Analytics Optimizer, intended to speed up complex analyses while reducing the cost for each transaction.
Complex database queries can see as much as a ten-fold improvement in performance with the new system, IBM said, and the mainframe's capabilities can be extended to customer -service applications running on IBM blade servers.
The core server, called the zEnterprise 196, has 96 microprocessors running at 5.2 GHz and is able to handle 50 billion instructions per second. New software developed for this microprocessor technology can lead to a 60 percent improvement in data-intensive and Java workloads, according to IBM.
Although the new system has 60 percent more capacity than System z10, its predecessor, it consumes about the same amount of electricity. IBM said it costs 74 percent less to run the same Oracle workloads on the 196 than on comparable x86 systems.
'A Giant Leap Forward'
Tom Rosamilia, general manager of IBM Power and z Systems, said the new zEnterprise System will "fundamentally change how data centers are managed." He added that the new mainframe represents "a giant leap forward in performance."
Blade servers inside the zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension can currently run off-the-shelf applications, and, later in 2010, IBM is planning to deliver extension support for POWER7 blades running its UNIX operating system, AIX.
Unified Resource Manager, described as "a first-of-its-kind firmware," provides a unified management for zEnterprise across various platform resources. More than 100,000 virtualized servers can be managed as a single system.
The Resource Manager is a key to efficient operation of the new hardware. It can ID system bottlenecks among various servers, and can, for example, immediately reprovision a failing System x blade server to another blade server. As it does so, an electronic message service call is automatically sent out to IBM.